COMMENTARY: Want To Make America Great? Try Listening to One Another

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COMMENTARY: Want To Make America Great? Try Listening to One Another

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The degradation of American politics is upon us. The once great institution established by some of the brightest political minds in history has devolved into a petty brawl of ad hominem attacks perpetuated by both the leaders of our political parties and the members within them. Our political environment has deteriorated to the point that memes published by Instagram accounts dictate the opinions of many constituents. Our political system has metamorphized into an abomination because of one fatal flaw we have all committed: we have closed our ears, opened our mouths and raised our fists.

One major problem our constituents have is the lack of accountability. For every poor choice made by an elected official, for every problem our country faces, our voting population has and will continue to lambast the political official in charge.

While the political official may have made the political misstep, one must remember that most American people elected this said president, governor, senator or representative into office. While the American people will blame the lack of tantalizing candidates for this decision, the American people forget one critical reality. American politicians cater themselves towards the constituency.

If the constituency is calm, well-mannered and interested in the correction of national flaws, the politician will structure his campaign and potentially his tenure around those tenants; however, if his party is close-minded, rambunctious and disinterested, the politician will structure himself, his campaign and his tenure accordingly. When the people have closed their ears, opened their mouths and raised their fists, the elected official will do accordingly. This problem isn’t restricted to any specific party; Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Communists alike all share this flaw within our political system.

This reality is especially true when it comes to colleges. No, this is not dedicated to blasting our universities of brainwashing American youth into toxic liberalism, nor is it dedicated to praising them for being the bastion of equality. However, university students, the newest voters in our system, are becoming increasingly closed-minded when it comes to opponents of their ideologies.

This actuality reared its ugly head when Richard Spencer, a notorious white supremacist, attempted to speak at the University of Florida. UF spent over $600,000 on protection, which included 500 police officers, state troopers and snipers. A state of emergency was also declared. Think about that: a state of emergency was declared…for a public speaker. This disgusting reality is perpetuated by college students who are unwilling to listen to other perspectives.

Yes, Richard Spencer is a hardcore white supremacist who said that “[White people] don’t exploit other groups, we don’t gain anything from their presence. They need us, not the other way around.” However, none of it matters. The fact that a public institution had to shell out $600,000 because its students felt “discriminated against” and “triggered” is more criminal than the words that spew from Spencer’s mouth. This is not condoning any of the racist opinions that Spencer holds. Yet, he his right to speak and be heard should be honored, just like it is for every other speaker.

Neglecting to listen to opposing perspectives is a death knell to any form of compromise. Many progressives throw the words “neo-Nazi” and “white supremacist” at any speaker who oppose their opinion, such as President Trump. Similarly, Republicans cannon words such as “communist” and “anti-American” at anyone who has a liberal perspective or anyone with the last name Clinton. If the accuracy of these statements was undeniable, there would not be a problem. However, the haphazard labeling of people based on a snippet of a speech or a sentence from a document is irresponsible. For anyone to use labels as harsh as those, people need to put down their fists and listen.

It is in human nature to look for information that aligns with one’s perspective. However, without looking at the other perspective, only half of the story is being learned. This leads to conformation bias, the main culprit for our political collapse. In this America, most liberals or progressives will likely only listen to perspectives that align with their ideology and deem all others unworthy. Similarly, most conservatives will likely only listen to perspectives that align with their ideology, and deem all others unworthy.

Ignoring opposing perspectives is a disservice to our political foundation and our public safety. Listening to white supremacists, such as Richard Spencer, will allow one to get a glimpse of what is in his mind and the minds of his supporters and see how he thinks. This will allow anyone who wishes to oppose him to do so armed with the necessary information. It will allow for compromise, as each side will better understand one another’s perspective. The righteous indignation that has been formed within the American constituency will fizzle away once we become open to each other’s perspectives. By putting down our fists, closing our mouths and opening our ears, the wreck that is our political spectrum can be salvaged.

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