“The clashes that broke out over the weekend at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., have become a new touchstone in the nation’s long-running debate over racism, free speech and violence. One woman was killed and many more injured when a car, allegedly driven by a rally participant, sped into a crowd of anti-racism protesters. Two state troopers monitoring the action died in a helicopter crash later in the day, though no foul play was suspected. The event quickly took on enormous political importance as Democrats and Republicans alike denounced the violence and the white supremacist views espoused at the far-right rally. President Trump has also denounced the racist groups, but he suggests that anti-racism counter-demonstrators share some of the blame. On Tuesday, he said ‘both sides’ were responsible for the bloodshed”” (Pearce 2017).
In today’s politics, communication is becoming more and more divisive among the two major political parties.This is a good topic because I am politically informed. I watch the news daily. and I have a professor who tells me about current events every class period. As a younger generation, we tend to still hear or be influenced by our parents’ or close family members’ views, but our worldviews are changing, and we may find a task like talking about the news is or may become difficult.
Between the people we talk to and the news we hear, we get bombarded with differing political views, but there are ways that we can communicate through it all; for example, political candidates at debates can act more pleasant to each other, the effect that talk shows and mass media has on communication should not inhibit someone from being open to other people’s, and family members with strong political views can learn how to be more aware of everyone’s feelings.
To begin, we will discuss how political candidates can have better sportsmanship when they are debating. During debates, it is okay for political contestants to argue in order to get political gain, but they should remain civilized when the debate is over.
We gathered information for this opinion from the Rachel Maddow Show from an episode that was shot in September 2016. It elaborates on how this need was prevalent during the 2016 Presidential Debates. After each debate, both candidates proceeded to talk about their competitor’s personal history as opposed to just talking about the facts. As a result, the race became more about whose mistakes seemed worse, and not who was more qualified for the job. (Maddow 2016)
Russell Goldman shows that during the Obama/McCain Presidential Campaigns, each candidate had something to say about why the other was not qualified, but they stuck to the political side of why the candidates should not be the head of the Executive Branch. (Goldman 2008) Because of these actions, the two men were able to stay civilized, and Barack Obama ultimately even gave a eulogy and McCain’s funeral proceedings.
If anyone has been paying attention to the news, we kept hearing about how the senatorial, the house, and the gubernatorial races were going to be close. We were able to witness that angry and violent rhetoric was not good enough to keep the house majority. It also caused people with a variety of ethnicities to campaign in states that seemed exclusively conservative. We also saw the rise of women in the campaign trail. Candidates also have a hard time communicate with their audiences. In a summary of the Nixon/Kennedy debates, the writers at the History Channel elucidate that Nixon had a hard time connecting to the viewers. For example, they state that, “ Kennedy nailed it during the Great Debates, staring directly into the camera as he answered each question. Nixon, on the other hand, looked off to the side to address the various reporters, which came across as shifting his gaze to avoid eye contact with the public–a damaging blunder”(History.com 2010). The History Channel also mentions that, “Kennedy was more than ready for his close-up–though sources later claimed that the naturally telegenic senator still got a touch-up from his team. Nixon, on the other hand, had a pale complexion and fast-growing stubble that together lent him a perpetually grayish pallor”(History.com 2010b).
To reiterate, political candidates need to learn now to stick to the qualifications of the position they are running for. They can do this by talking about why their opponent should not have that particular position. Candidates should also learn how reach their audience. They can be groomed, be ready to answer questions, and smile. This will improve the candidates’ chance of winning.
Also, how to avoid discord and injury at political protests. In many cases, television and podcasts can add fire to the flames. For example, Melissa Gotlieb, a student at the University at Wisconsin, writes that, “In many normative conceptions of democracy, the mass media have been seen as a central player in deliberative processes by “providing platforms for advocacy” and the “transmission of diverse political discourse”” (Gotlieb 2017 extracted from Gurevitch & Blumler, 1990). This means that politics has been prevalent in the media that we watch and listen to all of the time. Therefore, we are politically influenced by what we hear and see.
In addition, there are political programs on T.V. that people watch on a daily basis. Many of them we may not agree with. If a person is a conservative or conservative-leaning moderate, then they would not prefer Rachel Maddow or Lawrence O’Donnell. On the flip-side, if a person is a liberal or a liberal-leaning moderate, they would not watch Sean Hannity or Megyn Kelly.
Simultaneously, many people look up to comedians for their political insight. One of these comedians is Stephen Colbert. Some individuals are huge fans of his political satire. He even has a huge page on Brainy Quotes. One of his favored quotes by people is, “ It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that’s not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything”(Brainy Quote).
The point is that we as people tend to get comfortable with our beliefs, programs, and atmospheres that we tend to close ourselves off from other opinions. Because of this, we may become ignorant of the whole story that happened. It is like what my dad always says, “ There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and what actually happened.”
Lastly, the holiday can be a time for families to get together, but we all have those family members who like to force their politics on us. It feels awkward when our family members talk politics at the dinner table. In many cases, families are divided on politics. In the current political climate, both parties tend to bicker over beliefs at dinner. Yet, what they disagree on does not always make sense.
Matt Grossman, a writer for the Washington post says that, “…the divide between each party’s members is much wider than simply distinct policy positions and different evaluations of candidates. Each party’s supporters define the terms and stakes of political competition quite differently. Republicans believe they’re battling over two opposing ideologies, while Democrats view partisan conflict instead as a fight between different social groups” (Grossman 2016). That means that at the table, two or parties could banter back and forth without getting anywhere.
Ilana Simmons, a writer for Psychology Today writes that, “…we often speak past each other. Haidt says that we tend to stick to our feelings and are slow to admit that our opponents feel as sincerely as we do. We tend to demonize the other side and form self-righteous opposing teams”(Simmons 2010). I have a cousin that voted for trump and he argued about how north Korea could actually help us with our economy and I was thinking that North Korea can barely take care of their own people and how badly they treat their citizens. We should not act that way at the dinner table with the people we love. If someone brings politics or any uncomfortable opinion up, we should let them say what they want, but not validate their opinion. We can also ask them why they think that way because then we can try and understand them. Lastly, we can just go talk to someone else. It may hurt their feelings at first, but they will understand that it is not a good subject to talk about.
Communication is key for knowledge and it can also be applied towards politics. We constantly receive information about differing political views, but there are methods to communicate through the information overload such as having political candidates at debates can acknowledge the other viewpoint and respect it, mass media reshaped communication systems by creating sides and covering politics like a sport, and the third aspect of family members creating their own political bubbles and honing down too much on them due to the homogenous information they receive. Media has drastically changed and it can be demonstrated in political coverage and how politicians usually deflect their opposition by villainizing them instead of providing information.
Media covers politics with winners and losers and in the coverage much of the gravitas and real world application of the politics is muddled when it reaches its audience. The audience then has a concentration of the media they consume and that concentration can cause a false sense of self informed intuition and cause the participants in a debate to not progress through the issue and come out less informed. To overcome the adversity of polarized politics, we have to be open to opposing views and gather crucial information to make informed decisions without just sticking to a party.