Time Magazine hit it on the nose when they called Trump the leader of the “Divided States of America.” The people of this country are split, dismissing one another’s opinions and accusing each other of living in a bubble. It is disappointing, to say the least, that we as a country are no longer fighting together to combat the problems that our country faces. Indeed, in many cases the two major political parties have such different policies that it seems there is no room for compromise.
You can see it for any number of issues. We argue over whether or not climate change is real when a united country could do so much to fix the problem. Almost 40 percent of the nation is still opposed to gays marrying the people they love. We argue whether to privatize health insurance, whether or not we should defund Planned Parenthood.
Oftentimes it seems ridiculous that the two ideologies in America should oppose one another. Take climate change for example. Even if you are skeptical about the science (which you shouldn’t be) the clean energy industry presents a fantastic opportunity to create decent paying jobs, and establish America as a leader in the field. It is possible to move ourselves over to cleaner energy without destroying the lives of coal workers, possibly through training programs. If our politicians and indeed our country worked together on this issue there is no doubt in my mind that we could do fantastic things. But instead we continue to pull one another in opposite directions.
The same goes for arguments against funding Planned Parenthood. Both sides want to reduce the number of abortions, certainly no one thinks that everyone should go around having abortions all the time. Trying to defund Planned Parenthood simply removes a choice that women have to get safe abortions and a resource for preventing unplanned pregnancies in the first place. This and other restrictions on abortion procedures don’t address the root of the problem, which is unplanned pregnancies that lead to a situation where the parents fear they can’t adequately care for a child. The ideal society we want to reach is where every child is born into a family that will love it and provide it with basic necessities. It is possible to jointly work towards reducing the number of abortions people have without violating a woman’s right to her own body.
Many pundits in America has said that we have to “listen to the other side” and understand their opinions and needs in the wake of the election. There are issues where we have to talk to one another instead of over one another. Climate change and abortion are two such issues. Another is gun control, as the American people should be able to agree on common sense solutions that aren’t seen as violating the Second Amendment. That will not happen if one side paints the other as gun-grabbing totalitarians and are viewed as gun-crazy maniacs in return. We must communicate with one another if we ever hope to make serious progress in our society.
Both sides can be accused of living in a bubble with some degree of merit. For example I was fairly surprised when I learned that so many Americans were still against the legalization of same sex marriage, something that I regard as a no-brainer. Many have moved on to other issues regarding LGBT rights, so someone who still hasn’t accepted same sex marriage is going to have a more difficult time acceding to the next step (say transgender bathrooms). While allowing same sex couples to marry each other is the right thing to do, it is important that people continue to emphasize why instead of accepting it as a given that everyone agrees with them.
We can’t just assume we are correct and let that be the end of it. If you believe in a policy you must rigorously defend and justify it with evidence, and you must be willing to take into consideration new evidence even if it disproves your point. Otherwise the politics of our nation will just become even more divided and gridlocked.
Jacob Kowalski is a weekly columnist to The Daily Campus opinion section. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.