It was the golden rule my grandmother lived by and there are two things you don’t talk about, politics and religion. Yet, to her uncomfortableness, it was those two topics my dad thought himself to thrive in. Every time my grandparents came over, the topic would somehow pivot to the two thought-to-be unapproachable topics. My grandfather would try to entertain him but anytime he would bring up an opposing argument, my dad would get upset and debate the legitimacy of his sources. My household is not some outlier in America. In today’s world, the lack of respect for others opinion seems to be dropping at a fast rate.
For the sake of this article, let’s break down the viewpoints into just strictly two overarching groups, Republicans and Democrats. Inside each of these groups, there are different variations yet they are held together by the same common values. As bipartisan becomes a thing of the past, politicians, as well as their constituents, begin to just practice “toeing the party line.” Toeing the party line is a huge threat to our democracy because instead of voters searching out valuable information on their possible leaders, they just follow the opinions of someone else. Rather than being seen supporting the others party’s person, voters can fall into the trap of just checking off the name that has the party’s nomination.
It confuses me this country that was built on the principles of free speech can’t seem to handle practicing it. As viewpoints have stopped being viewpoints and become offensive statements, the reactions to political and religious statements become more and more emotionally driven. What we should do as a country is embrace each opposing viewpoint. Even if you may not agree with someone’s opinions, allowing them to talk about it may lead to your understanding of why your views oppose. Having mutual respect for one another’s thought can also lead to positive discussions.
Yet there is an issue of where to draw the line. Some viewpoints can appear to have a lack of respect and can seem to be just plain old offensive. The answers seem obvious; no one should ever use cultural or racist or homophobic or sexist rhetoric. In fact, no one should be saying anything that could resemble derogatory language. It is important to remember, especially in politics, that one politician’s disgraceful quote does not represent the viewpoints of his whole party or even his voters. Someone may support said politician, not because of their offensive viewpoints, but because they may agree with other aspects of their platform. Every voter has the opportunity to create their own definition for respect and respecting another voter’s reasoning even when it may not agree with our own, is crucial. There is a way to go about healthy debating a topic versus shutting down and drowning out other viewpoints.
So where did the respect go? It really hasn’t left us, it’s just buried deep within ourselves. We must unleash it as soon as possible. Now more than ever, it is important to unleash it [respect] just in time for the midterm elections. We must have respect for ourselves and hold ourselves to the social standard in doing research before voting. We must have respect for everyone’s individual cultural experience and the values that culture may bring, including religion. We must have respect for those that hold different opinions than our own because each will be utilized in creating a compromise that benefits society. We must have respect for the outcome even if it’s a surprise and upsets you, at the end of the day, it is what it is. So I hope you voted on Nov. 6 for whoever ever you thought fit the definition of respect. It’s what our country needs the most.