Don’t ask me what my views are, I probably won’t tell you. The closest I got to being political was interning in Washington D.C. one summer and going to a happy hour on the hill. Thus, I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject. But if you tell me your beliefs, I can probably see where you are coming from. I can understand. Did you know that a person is capable of understanding without agreeing? Yes, that was sarcasm. Agreeing is not a prerequisite to understanding. Having the ability to understand, which relies on listening, processing, and considering another’s perspective, is a truly incredible trait. Understanding invokes empathy and kindness. Understanding allows for a deeper human connection. Yet, our entire political system and the people who participate in it have boycotted the art of understanding. So when I say I can understand most opinions and beliefs, I am not saying that I agree with most opinions and beliefs. The exception? Extreme views, regardless of which way they lean, are outliers that ignore understanding and are exclusive in nature therefore they should be thrown out (and eradicated if possible).
I notoriously love having choices. It’s why I always overpack…because what if there’s an 80’s party happening at our hotel on vacation and I need a neon leotard? This love of choices is also why I tend to present my husband with a bouquet of options when we have our nightly “where should we get dinner” fight. This isn’t a symptom of being weak. In fact, most who know me can agree I’m strong-willed, even stubborn to some (cc: my husband). Not having a strong political opinion is a choice, not a lack of deciding. The decision is to be more fluid in my political opinion and to understand others’ beliefs. How is it that we don’t force people to choose a gender or a sexual orientation, yet we present them 2 options for political parties? If politics were more on the LGBTQ spectrum, I’d be a Q - as in questioning my political beliefs everyday and reserving the right to modify, change, and reject something I once accepted.
Today, your party affiliation can spark solidarity or outrage. It is nearly impossible to not be influenced by the omnipresent all-pervasive media sources and remain impartial. We have a media that promotes one side of the coin so heavily that even I, a former Entertainment industry employee who knows the art of advertising, find it difficult to separate my own opinions from those being pushed upon me in movies, on TV, through music, and social media. Celebrities are basically icons and most are praising one particular party, why wouldn’t I want to be like them? It’s unfair and unjust to have this less-than-subliminal messaging influence the youth who really just want to belong. In fact, most of the Millennial and below generations would even prioritize belonging over making their own opinions and beliefs. Main stream media perpetuates a political dissonance by condemning conservatives and labeling them as ignorant, hateful, entitled pricks or painting liberals as lazy, hippy trippy idiots. I’m neither. Can I say that? Why do I have to choose? People can be Asexual and Agender, so why can’t they be Apolitical? Sure, I grew up in a predominantly conservative family and have carried some of those values with me into my later years. But I also am very liberal when it comes to my belief that people should do what is best for themselves when it comes to love, marriage, and the baby in the baby carriage. It is not my place to judge someone else’s personal choices, nor do I want to - it’s exhausting. I can hardly keep up with myself and my own indecisive ways, let alone advocate how someone else should live their life. No thanks.
So am I nothing? No. I have beliefs. Can I categorize them? No. Because there isn’t a category for what I am currently which is such a failure in the realm of political evolution. But that’s not what bugs me most. What bugs me is that I have friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances who are so stuck in the two-party system that they resent those who are on the opposing side. This whole political system supports animosity and hatred. People are fighting with each other, breaking off relationships because they, what, disagree (or think they disagree). People are afraid to bend because what if they break? What if they accidentally understand the other side, or worse, agree with it? The horror! People vote for candidates solely based off of party affiliation and this is perhaps one of the most egregious side effects of the two-party system. I would never vote for a candidate just because he or she is white, so why am I voting for them because they are Republican or Democrat? It creates this laissez-faire attitude that prevents people from actually doing the research to support a person who aligns with their values. The American colors are red, white, and blue so why do we only have red and blue represented? I respect the new-age culture of woke-ness that is happening but when it comes to this, we’re asleep at the wheel. I get that women are compelled to vote for other women in a supreme act of solidarity and support. That’s cool. But if a man said he was voting for a man for the same reason, would it fly? Just food for thought. So I move to get rid of the party affiliations, throw checking the Republican or Democrat box out the window and just associate candidates with their core values. There are way more animals in the kingdom than just a donkey and an elephant, so don’t be a wise-ass.
At the end of the day, politics is ripping our country apart at the seams. We are sticking to our guns (for some, this is quite literal) and failing to recognize that understanding is the most profound human-to-human kindness. And, like I said, understanding does not mean agreeing. The two are not synonymous. And it’s time to stop crucifying one another for differing beliefs. If you want to share your opinions publicly, by all means do so but do not expect me to share mine or agree in return. Mainstream media has to stop using their power and reach to influence or bully people into identifying with a party. Radical beliefs should never be tolerated or welcomed because they do not promote understanding, they promote an egomaniacal superiority complex that one group is better than another and here, in the United States, we appreciate equality. As an elder Millenial, I am just now figuring out who I am, making enough money to keep my bank account out of the red, and dealing with social choices on a more personal level. I, as a 28 year old female, am just now garnering the experience to educate myself on my own political beliefs so let me figure them out. Please.