The race for President of the United States is already ramping up. I live in Portland, OR, and I am already seeing brand new ‘Vote for Hilary’ bumper stickers pop up here and there. I already have a feeling that this race is going to be long and mean. Frankly, I’m not looking forward to it.
I have my political opinions and you have yours. I’m not interested in talking about those here. What I am interested in is how we talk about people who believe differently than we do. I think how we discuss politics and social issues almost has more of an impact on the lives of average Americans than our politics themselves.
In America, we have a tendency to dehumanize the opposing party, or viewpoint. Dehumanizing a group of people allows us to ignore whatever they say. It shuts down dialog. It divides the country instead of uniting it. Dehumanizing people of an opposing opinion is incredibly destructive. If we aren’t careful, dehumanizing people of an opposing political party will destroy America.
Aaron Sorken, in the popular TV series ‘West Wing’ captures this in dialog between character Ainsley Hayes, a Republican, who was just asked to serve in a Democrat led White House, and her Republican friends.
We cannot control how other people discuss politics, but we can control how we talk about politics. Like it or not, we will have to discuss politics eventually, especially as this race heats up. What can you do to avoid dehumanizing people who believe differently than you do? I’m not saying don’t disagree. I am saying that you need to disagree in ways that respect others rather than dehumanize them.