Before I begin, I need to issue a sincere apology to the other bloggers, Jason and Jacob, as well as the readers. I did not plan my week well and I did not get a chance to give this topic the full attention it deserves. So, forgive me if my post is a little on the light side or a little on the ramble-y side. I will, however, make sure to finish reading through the study’s detailed findings and provide an updated portion to this post.
Is “partyism” real? Do you have friends who have this radical new communicable disease? Perhaps you even suffer from it yourself! I can tell you that I did, and still do to some extent. Is that a bad thing? Yes, and no. This political prejudice is part of what makes our country great as well as what keeps us even keeled. It keeps both sides honest and in check. Of course, it’s only truly useful when acted upon in moderation.
I do believe that we have become hyper-partisan in our everyday lives. I’ve seen it erode friendships and have been both the offender and the offended when it comes to this phenomenon. I see the political brawls on Facebook and Twitter, daily. This “partyism” or political prejudice is real and the extent to which it seems to be devolving into has me frightened. The reason I am frightened is that it seems as though people have forgotten how to disagree without being disagreeable. I see this as very problematic for society.
The rise of interpersonal communication through the Internet has allowed for exponential discussions with people we barely know. In some respects this is great as it allows everyone to experience so many differing points of view. Of course, it also allows us to be far more negative and nasty towards people if we don’t agree with them. This intergroup bias or in-group favoritism is part of our human nature. Like most elements of our human nature, if not kept in check, things can get ugly fast.
Understanding first and foremost that just because we have strong convictions about how we think society should be run, doesn’t make us any more or less right (or wrong) than the republican in Iowa, the Democrat in New Hampshire, or even the moderate in Texas. We all have ideas and convictions that we all want everyone to hear and acknowledge (again, a trait of human nature). However what we need to realize is that there are things, which are far more important than being right; those things are fellow human beings.
In my view the biggest obstacle we face in reducing the effect of “partyism” is to open our minds and more importantly our ears. We need to remove ourselves from the political sphere we live in and seek out those with opinions different than our own. Our first thoughts should be less about “which party do you belong to” and more focused on “what shapes your convictions”. In addition we need to keep in mind that we are all fallible; nobody has the answers because life is unfathomably complex. We may not agree on anything, but if it helps me understand you more and develop a sense of unity on a different level, that’s all I can wish for.