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The dangers of politics and relationships

| Wednesday, November 7, 2018

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

-President George Washington

As November 6, 2018 draws closer, if you’re like me, your flooded with messages to “Go Out and Vote,” and “Your Vote Makes a Difference.” Your social media is abuzz with advertisements from candidates trying to shame the other, and some of your more politically active followers are probably making their voting opinions very clear. Some of you may be engaging in active debate about why your opinion is right, while others may be distancing yourselves from friends you’d rather not engage in political debate with. You may have received a special Spotify playlist encouraging you to play the top hits in your state while on your way to the voting polls.

Before you stop reading because this is another “Go Vote,” article, I ask you to consider this. This is in no way an article about why you should vote, who you should vote for or even about voting at all. This article is an appeal to you, a strong, independent participating citizen, about the dangers of letting today’s politics negatively affect your relationships.

American politics has become increasingly polarized as the divide between political parties has widened. This is not new information to any of us as every day we are exposed to harsh stereotypes, assumptions and name calling from both sides. In the past few months, I have been called amoral by conservatives for my views about separation of church and state regarding abortion, I have listened to liberals say “I cannot be friends with a Trump supporter,” and I have listened to both sides victimize themselves whilst attacking the other. I have seen “feminists” demean other women for going to a “lesser” school than them, and men perpetuate double standards for women but not themselves. And I am forced to wonder, what is it all for?

Today, I ask you to consider the wise words of our first President George Washington on the effects of politics in our society. We are all responsible for electing officials who are the most qualified to benefit our democracy, but in order to do that dutifully, we must learn from others, especially those whose opinions differ from ours. If we continue disengaging from the opposing party, we not only divide ourselves from others, allowing for hurtful personal attacks from both sides, but we also become uninformed and ineffective voters. The beauty of living in America is having the freedom to express our views and be respected for it. We have a chance to solidify our views and grow with the help of others. That has my vote.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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