I sit on my plush couch feeling anything but comfortable as I watch people scream opinions towards each other on CNN’s nightly episode of “Who Can Interrupt the Person Next To Them the Most Times?” This is a segment we are all too familiar with as this kind of debating has become the political norm for our generation; an era of division and hatred towards those on the opposing side. I can’t help but reminisce the kickball games of elementary school; two opposing teams, shouting cruelties at each other in an attempt to win a game that entitled you to nothing but bragging rights. Playing offense and defense at the same time was not an option. It is no wonder we have grown up seeking that same boost in pride, switching kickball games for political debates and holding tightly to the childish banter that we so loved. What is the point of politics today? Is it the common goal to decide what is best for our country? Or is it two opposing sides doing everything in their power to prove the other group wrong?
We are a nation divided by the idea of two distinct parties that have been bred to hate each other as our country’s political world has grown. Unwavering groups that you must stick with through trials and tribulations, but where is the in-between? There are times when this system seems more like two solid points rather than a continuous line of ranging ideas: a spectrum on which you can reside. We have been groomed by society and media to believe that neutral ideas or opinions going against that of your party are considered un-American. Junior Megan Taff weighed in on this issue, stating that, “nowadays, [she doesn’t] blame people for being associated with a specific party.” This idea of pledging yourself to one confined political party is an unfair requirement, when in reality, the majority of people have views that align with both sides.
The concept of segregated parties is not merely a symptom of small town suburbia, but a trend sweeping the United States of America. Although it is a widespread issue, it’s not hard to find examples of this a little closer to home. As a school with a multitude of politically aware students, many very conservative or very liberal, it is difficult to welcome political conversation without it turning into a tense argument. Sophomore Kate Hill addresses the issue in discussing the fact that many people fear being attacked for their varying views. This concern causes “people to stay silent or just simply not pick either party.” Speaking about your political views should not be something that causes issues amongst friends or peers but instead should be mentally stimulating and allow you to gain perspective on differing views. This is hard to achieve, ultimately because we feel a separation between those of one party and those of another. If you side completely with the right wing ideas, you are viewed as a racist or derogatory. If you side completely with the left wing ideas, you are considered lazy or easily offended. The in-between of these two parties is the uncharted territory of those too scared to have one foot on both sides of the line.
Having ideas that stray from the party you associate with is not a sign of lack of competence or loyalty. These views are personal opinions that should not be something you side with just to fit in a small bubble of political opinions that you feel obligated to stick with. When asked about the difficulties of fitting into one specific part, West Ranch student Patrick Basore explained, “It’s best to know where you lie on most controversies, but it’s also important to remember you.” Following this statement, Basore continues in describing the tendencies of the opposing political parties as “a rigid branch of a tree unwilling to yield to the strong winds of circumstance.” Under the constantly changing controversies that haunt our nation, it is not realistic to believe that every person will completely side with one opinion. In order to be the most politically involved, one must decide their ideas for themselves not for their party.
Any type of political opinion can be an uncomfortable topic, but when people are required to pledge themselves to a set of opinions that they don’t completely agree with, it becomes hard to figure out what your personal view on situations are. With such refined groups, it is natural to stray outside of the given lines and lie in the middle of spectrum. Doing so is not an act of betrayal to a party, but rather an act of loyalty to yourself and your ideas.