I don’t know about you, but it seems like politics has become rabid. I’m sure such a hyperbole has been true throughout history. For some reason, it seems truer now than ever.
Each passing day, it seems we lose more of our ability to love one another as friends and neighbors. According to FiveThirtyEight, much of that inability comes from our judgmental attitudes about the perceived demographics of America’s two major political parties.
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. – Matthew 7:12 (NIV)
Do notice that I said perceived demographics.
Yes, it seems much of our animosity for one another is based on fear and perception. And this animosity affects the political tribes we put ourselves into. Here’s some feedback from FiveThirtyEight.
This partisan divide is such a big part of people’s political identities, in fact, that it’s reinforced simply by “negative partisanship,” or loyalty to a party because you don’t like the other party. A Pew Research Center poll from last year found that about 40 percent of both Democrats and Republicans belong to their party because they oppose the other party’s values, rather than because they are particularly aligned with their own party.
Moreover, as I alluded to earlier, we oppose “the other” political party because of the people we think make up “the other” political party. Here’s some more feedback from FiveThirtyEight.
Blacks made up about a quarter of the Democratic Party, but Republicans estimated the share at 46 percent. Republicans thought 38 percent of Democrats were gay, lesbian or bisexual, while the actual number was about 6 percent. Democrats estimated that 44 percent of Republicans make more than $250,000 a year. The actual share was 2 percent.
Do you see the problem here?
Not only are we living in fear, but we are living in fear of an inaccurate reality. If we simply talk to each other and fostered friendships, we would come to realizations. The realization that we all have more in common than not.
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So if you’re reading this, become a good listener the next time you enter into a political discussion. If you make listening your primary goal, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve been missing all these years. Here’s a great guide for how to have a non-heated conversation about politics.