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Political issues are multi-dimensional | Letter
While not popular, it is exceptionally important for us to speak to one another about politics. Seldom do we agree on legislative issues and foreign policy, but the political system we have is flawed in part due to lack of participation. What participation we do have is plagued with misinformation and misguided energy.
Rather than fighting for a cause, we fight against each other. In the process, we destroy any possibility of maintaining a prosperous and productive political climate. Engaging in political discussion with your peers is often discouraged, frowned upon and easily becomes combative. Most of my political discussions begin with a policy issue and end with negative remarks toward my personal character — something I wager we have all experienced.
The problem lies with political issues being used to build personal identity. Through the issues we support or reject we create an identity for ourselves. When a person disagrees with or denounces the issues we support, we tend to understand that as an attack toward our personal identity. Focus is then shifted to protecting our identity rather than deeply considering the political issue.
When you engage in any argument with the intention of “winning,” you discredit objectivity. The outcome of the engagement is predetermined — even when faced with objective information that discredits your position, the goal becomes to disengage from the objectively evaluated political issue and to “win” the argument using means often entirely unrelated to the political issue.
Political discussion is a useful tool that allows us to understand the social, economic and political landscape around us. It allows us to better understand what the thinking, needs and wants of our fellow citizens are. It allows us to gain meaningful perspective, to collect information and to evaluate both for credibility. When used properly, political discussion allows us to better understand and contribute to our local, county and national communities. It allows us to cast more understanding and informed votes.
I continually hear that we ought to refrain from political discussion because it does not apply to us. These issues are not, and have never been, just about us. They concern you, your friends, your family, your co-workers, your grandchildren and all of your other fellow Americans.
You do not have to be a woman to discuss reproductive rights. You do not have to be gay to discuss gay rights. You do not have to be a gun owner to discuss gun rights. You do not have to be religious to discuss religious freedom. You do not have to be poor to discuss poverty. Even if a particular issue does not directly apply to our bodies, possessions, or beliefs, these are issues that affect every person regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or socio-economic status. We are all involved in all of these issues and more and our vote matters.
As the next election sessions approach, keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with discussing politics. Do not allow your politics to define your identity and understand that we all for one reason or another support or reject issues because it is what we believe to be best for ourselves and the people for whom we care the most.
Political issues are multi-dimensional and there is never a one-size-fits-all answer. The next time a person disagrees with you, spend your time and energy understanding why rather than trying to discredit them as people. Because every issue involves every one of us directly or indirectly, casting an informed and meaningful vote is of vital importance. The only way we can create a prosperous and productive political climate is to substantiate our votes with more than just ego, and to do that we have to sit down and talk about the issues.
Luka Trbojevic, Redmond