If you’ve spent even a little amount of time on social media lately, it’s hard to miss the anger, name-calling and vitriol surrounding the 2020 election season.
So, it’s refreshing to see when someone posts a meme stating “We can disagree and still be friends” (but which usually falls apart when the comments begin), and even more refreshing when a college student echoes the sentiment in a student paper op-ed.
USC’s Aisha Patel titles her piece in the Daily Trojan “Political polarization is at its worst and must be stopped before it’s too late.”
Political polarization poses a huge threat to democracy. Fostered by both fear and hatred, such polarization leaves no room for progress and leads to inaction within the government. …
[W]e’re at a point in United States history where partisanship has become synonymous with patriotism and the need to destroy the other side becomes the ultimate goal. This is precisely how democracies cripple and ultimately erode.
Patel notes that incendiary graphics on social media such as “If you vote for Trump, you’re a racist” are counterproductive as, well, c’mon — not all Republicans and Trump supporters are racist. “Such graphics not only ignite unnecessarily hateful rhetoric, but they also (more importantly) destroy any chance of growth or compromise, contributing to the political divide between red and blue,” she says.
All this sounds wonderful … until Patel enlightens us as to how she feels:
“Trust me, while I wholeheartedly agree with the bottom part of the graphic that says ‘Donald Trump will not denounce white supremacists because he is one,’ since it’s quite inarguable that President Trump is a misogynistic racist …” (She also says Black Lives Matter was “unrightly” dubbed a political movement instead of a humanitarian one.)
Understand what this means. Imagine Patel or someone like her prefacing a political conversation with it’s “inarguable” that Trump is a white supremacist/misogynist/racist, adds “this doesn’t mean I think you are, however,” and proceeds to try to convince you about “the implications of having Trump in office again […] for the sake of humanity.”
Would you still want to continue?
Check out what happened to a guy who managed to nab his 15 minutes of fame four years ago: Political junkies may remember Ken Bone, the red-sweatered alleged undecided voter from one of the 2016 presidential debates. On Wednesday, he tweeted the following:
All morning the Trump supporters have been nice to me even though I don't like Trump. The Biden camp has been shitting all over me because I don't like Biden. Do these people really not see how much this behavior pushes bystanders toward the right?
— Ken Bone (@kenbone18) October 7, 2020
Many responses to this tweet made Bone’s point perfectly:
That’s because Trump supporters are horrible people and they recognize that you’re a horrible person. They’re congratulating you on being the kind of piece of filth that would vote third party in an election like this. Don’t you get it? They’re celebrating your shittiness.
— Palmer Report (@PalmerReport) October 7, 2020
"Nazis are nice to me" isn't the defense you think it is
— Feather Short Of Fly (@FethrShortOfFly) October 7, 2020
If you want uncritical attention get a fucking dog, you shallow narcissistic twat.
— CertainTinyLittleFishHat (@Popehat) October 7, 2020
You get an “A” for effort, Ms. Patel. Unfortunately, you fell right into the trap, such that it is, which allowed Mr. Trump to reach the White House in the first place. It doesn’t matter if you’re more “empathetic” than other anti-Trumpers; stating up front that certain aspects of their candidate are beyond discussion, let alone telling people the person they support is a threat to humanity itself, just makes people roll their eyes and walk away.
And now you’ve got more of the very polarization you claim to despise.
IMAGE: minusequalsplus / Flickr.com