Political views polarizes ethics

Emily Zhu, Associate Editor

Barbara Jordan, a leader of the Civil Rights Movement, presents her keynote speech to Congress in the 1976 Democratic National Convention. “I could list the problems which cause people to feel cynical, angry, frustrated…I could recite these problems, and then I could sit down and offer no solutions.” Forty-three years ago, yet our country’s lack of community persists, dividing the nation.
YouTube channel, “The Cut” explores thought-provoking topics of guessing various social aspects from spoken language to income among a line-up of diverse people. Usually presented in an informal manner, the show is accompanied with entertaining, quirky comments. But more importantly, the results often reveal unconscious stereotypes – the point of the show being to influence the preconceptions in participants and viewers alike.
With the Democrats versus Republicans line-up displaying that people even label others based on the way they season their chicken, the video made me realize my own prejudice in assuming extreme views on both sides of the spectrum and disregarding the middle ground. Within a party affiliation, people may still feel certain issues they are passionate about are not addressed and may not wholeheartedly agree with the associated platforms. In a deep blue state, we often associate Republicans as “white supremacists,” characterizing Democrats as the norm.
Group polarization in psychology refers to the increasingly extreme views among people who share the same beliefs. The political polarization in recent years – fused with issues like global warming (though it still boggles me concrete science is being made political), gun control, and immigration – is evident in derogatory, racist comments clogging Instagram posts (often containing unfortunate grammar errors) and immediate aggression in the presence of any differing opinion. Disregarding politics, our intolerance to difference is threatening human connections between people. When we use stereotypes or discern the most extreme, we are disconnecting people and their views. As a culture, we grow up in a society that highlights individualism–being your own person, being self-sufficient and having economic freedom. We need to restore the core of humanity by repairing relationships.
Let’s follow the example set by talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, a liberal: she laughs and talks with conservative president George Bush at a Cowboys football game — having conversations. Because we are all different, we need to acknowledge that we are all individuals with different experiences and outlooks on life. Still, we need to be kind to everyone. We may not agree with different perspectives, but we need to respect them.
The fundamental respect we should have in a country with ingrained values of universal altruism and kindness is necessary in bridging the gap of political divergence or any disagreement in opinion. As Jordan proposes, “Why can’t we be generous with each other?”