Sophia Elias
April 30, 2013 9:00 am

How do you feel when you are categorized according to your political beliefs?

In American politics, if you’re a Republican, you’re supposedly a rich, anti-progress, pro-evil business, gay hating, woman repressing, racist warmonger. If you’re a Democrat you’re supposedly a lazy, pro-tax, baby killing, welfare-enabling Marxist who doesn’t believe in individual responsibility.

Quite frankly, I am sick of hearing about what “monsters” we all are. I’ve been in these streets, people. There are far more offensive outfits than there are monsters – but that’s not the point. These generalizations and stereotypes being propagated achieve absolutely nothing but separation, anger and resentment. So let’s do something fun and see what we have in common.

Each and every one of us operates according to a value system. What you value and to which degree you value a principle is shaped by your life experiences. I have my own life experiences to support my outlooks – and so do you. Calling me a “dumb b*tch” for what I believe is an attack against me, not the policies I value.

Whether your values originate from your personal experiences, religious beliefs or family traditions, they are considered pretty personal. So when someone attacks your values, it feels personal – and it might be! Let’s face it, you offended a person for having values they disagree with. So now this person is offending you with false allegations because you offended them – just because you’re you!

These situations are even worse on the Internet. As I’m sure many of you know, these illogical, venomous comments run rampant in blog posts, article commentaries, and some of our “newsworthy” publications. In fact, if you go to the comments section of any political article, I can almost guarantee some idiotic exchanges. It’s become so common that I have to stop and ask myself how we got to this point. And does the regularity of it all somehow make it acceptable?

-WE WANT TO BE ACCEPTED-

How about instead of accepting the status quo of our Internet garbage, we rise above it and admit a few things to ourselves: We don’t want to be called names. We don’t want to be hated. We don’t want to live with a negative stereotype hovering over us because of what we believe. We want to be accepted. To use terms like “racist warmongers” or “lazy welfare enablers” is so sickly limited and polarizing. While I am sure there are a few people who fit these stereotypes, putting these terms on an entire political party is obtuse.

-WE HAVE PREFERENCES-

Your political preferences are no different than how you like your eggs. I prefer mine scrambled with a little salt, pepper and mozzarella cheese. But hell, maybe you don’t even like eggs. But you know what? I will respect you no matter what because you are not your preferences – you are a person. You are a complicated, conflicted individual who learns lessons every single day, just like me. Our differences should not be a cause for assault; they should be an opportunity to learn. So instead of name calling, how about you tell me why you don’t like eggs? If you want, I’ll tell you why I like them scrambled with salt, pepper and mozzarella cheese. I mean, I might go so far as to offer you some. It’s the only dish I can cook.

-WE’RE NOT WRONG. OR RIGHT!-

The whole “there is no wrong or right” debate is not something I want to rile up. And I don’t want people asking, Well if she believes there is truly no right or wrong, what does she think of child molesters and murderers? For all I know, you weren’t thinking that at all and I just brought up something completely unrelated and too philosophical to discuss in this post. But rest assured, that discussion is not happening right now. I am speaking about right and wrong in the context of political policy.

Being born and raised in Los Angeles, I have a very eclectic group of friends. Each and every one of them has a different opinion on what is “right” and “wrong” when it comes to policy. I have friends who vote democratic because that particular platform generally aligns itself with the “pro-choice” principle. I also have friends who vote republican because they think that particular platform has sound economic policies. To further my point, I’d like to bring up the [now] hotly debated topic of gun control. After tragedies like Sandy Hook and Aurora, stricter gun regulations have been on the table for debate. Advocates of gun control believe that stricter gun regulations are one way to prevent further tragedies and other episodes of gun violence. Another side says that taking away our guns is unconstitutional. There are plenty of responsible gun owners, many of whom prevented gun violence by exercising their right to carry.

So tell me, who’s wrong? The person who lost a loved one in a senseless act of gun violence? Or the person who prevented a robbery/homicide from occurring simply by carrying a gun and using it for protection? Do you see what a complicated dichotomy this all is?! To suggest that either one of these individuals is “wrong” is a bit senseless. In fact, nothing bothers me more than when I see a policy being proclaimed as “wrong” by an individual when things are rarely ever that simple. In fact…

WE ARE NOT SIMPLE-

We are very, very complicated. Most of us don’t completely identify with just one political platform. Maybe you’re pro-choice but you like how a smaller government operates. Or maybe you’re pro-life and you believe there needs to be more restrictions on guns. Thanks to our limited two-party system, this mix-n-match game can be confusing. We are so much more complicated than a political party’s headline. Yet we just accept it because….what else are you gonna do? Make your own party? Independents and Libertarians are like unicorns in mass media; they’re rarely seen, spoken to, or spoken about.

The good news:

-WE ARE THOUGHTFUL, UNIQUE AND DYNAMIC-

Not one of us can be accurately defined by any Internet troll or political party. Isn’t it time we take responsibility for ourselves to stop perpetuating this crap? If a disagreement occurs, just remember that your opponent has their beliefs for a reason, however trivial or great that reason may be to you. If you’re able to maintain a logical debate, maybe you’ll even find that you two have some common ground. Who knew two ideologically opposed people shared a distaste for political polarization!?

Image via ShutterStock

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