A group of students sit at dinner, chatting amiably—they’re talking about the matches they played today, lamenting Latin tests, and laughing at bad jokes. Everyone is having a pleasant evening—until someone mentions how some fashionable gay celebrity adopted a child from Africa or China, whichever was trendier at the time. Then conversation takes a turn to gay marriage, which, depending on the people who are at the table, generally is a signal to me that it’s time to leave; the tempo of conversation quickens and rises. Gay marriage morphs into abortion, which in turn somehow leads to gun control, then taxes, health care, and foreign policy. The voices start to tangle, cutting in mid-sentence, and the gestures get wild and border on downright violent. Suddenly it’s not about some gay celebrity’s fashionable adopted child but a loyalty war, elephants trumpeting and donkeys braying, each side stamping its feet, trying to trample the other.
The worst of the political debate wars take place in the months leading to the election, when nothing but political campaigns are in the news. In those days, any mildly controversial topic is a powder keg waiting to explode. Clearly, it is not election time at the moment, but the animosity over party affiliations is ever-present, and it has always been something that bothered me. This isn’t to say I’m completely apathetic to how the country is run. Debate is perfectly fine, and discrepancies in opinions are is only natural. However, when politics become involved, especially the perennial Democrat-Republican war, the discussion crosses from passionate to plain mean. I often hear people expressing utter disgust for those on the opposite side. The stereotypes associated with the two parties are also appalling.
Judging by the heated disputes between members of the two parties, which fail to convince anyone to modify his or her opinion, and always lead to nowhere but frustration, it seems the Democrat-Republican feud is pointless. In an ideal world, the party system wouldn’t exist at all since both sides have virtues and shortcomings. Sadly, this is not the case, and when it comes to running the nation, the choice comes down to one side or the other, and anything in between is a minority. Since my writing this article is highly unlikely to abolish the current American political system, the most I can do is to propose to debate in civility. Even if the other person’s views sound idiotic to you, don’t ram your ideas down his or her throat, and politics will be less painful for all.