For the past two years, politics have ruled my world in ways that I wish it hadn’t. From the election to repeated mass shootings, it has been really hard to take a step back from it all. In the midst of all of this political action occurring, I have noticed how truly close-minded I can be.
Berkeley, California, is one of the nation’s most liberal cities. It is diverse in race, class, religion, and more, but it tends to be very homogenous when it comes to one thing: political party affiliation. Those of us who were born into this city were most likely also born into the Democratic Party.
Growing up, I thought this was the absolute best thing. We are so open-minded and accept everybody, no matter who they are. Or, so I thought.
This year, I have discovered my impatience and intolerance for those outside of my political party. I found myself shutting down and refusing to listen when somebody was saying something that I didn’t agree with. For example, if I heard somebody start to defend guns in any way, shape, or form, I would instantly decide that I just wouldn’t get along with that person.
I still do agree with my democratic ideals, but I’m starting to question how I argue them. Growing up in such a liberal environment set me up to believe that everybody thought the same way as I did. For reference, during my high school career, I only knew two (outward) Republicans.
Coming to a much more politically diverse town for college was a huge wake-up call that showed me that the Bay Area is really a bubble. Once in that bubble, it can be really difficult to get out.
Although I am still regularly appalled by the rhetoric of our current president and the lack of action from our government on time-sensitive issues (gun control, ahem), I am pushing myself to be open and understanding with those who identify as Conservative or Republican.
I’ve already learned so much more about what goes into politics and how people come to their own conclusions, and I can’t wait to continue to learn more. It’s time for me, and all of us, to be more open-minded with one another and find that common ground that will move us forward.