The Harsh Reality Of Political Debate

Jaden Aling

The central tenet of any free and open society is the ability to debate and exchange ideas using reason and thought that leads to a mutual understanding. In other words, the opposite of the political discourse that we see today. This is a big problem and is only magnified in election years.  It is time to change this dynamic in order to improve this construct for future generations. There was a time when politics was about policy; candidates regardless of affiliation were able to debate these differences in a civil way. The focus used to be on solving problems, examining our policies, and engineering a better future for the country. Instead, what we see today is one side trying to prove the other side is incapable and incompetent. Our country is built on bipartisan principles that have helped us build one of the freest and open societies in the history of the modern world. This dynamic served us well for over 200 years but has left us in recent times. In the current environment, issues are defended with disdain and discontent rather than policy, rigor, and data. The harsh political climate does not force us to see all the possible solutions to a problem, but rather we close ourselves off to only see and hear what we want.

During campaign season, so much time and effort is spent telling the public how bad the other side is, we lose sight of the vision and the policies of what each candidate supports. This carries over to the public, and how we personally discuss policy with each other. We have to learn to empower others with education and morality, rather than attacks on beliefs. Comparing both transcripts of debates and how the public reacted, it is obvious that listening, responding thoughtfully, and actually talking policy is how we will sway opinions. So, how do we flip the narrative and learn to reason in order to bring results? It starts with education on the topic. Although passion is present, arguing with ignorance has no outcome.

Comprehending the impact that social media has on the way we talk about the election is also vital. Social media gives us an outlet to hide behind; a screen to say whatever we want with complete disregard for credibility. Generation Z, the generation of which all students at Latin are a part, is the first generation to grow up with social media, which might mean that we are prone to being gullible to what we see online. Not only are we gullible, but we are also prone to conformity with our followers and other influencers online. Our nature as Gen Kids is to follow what we see online whether we believe the behavior to be adequate or not. This can cause problems. We are the future of the next elections, which means we have to educate ourselves to discuss important issues in a beneficial way, and social media does not always set the best examples. A main takeaway from the debates is discussing policy in a polite and respectful manner is how to prove a point and sway the public, not blatant bullying and interruption. We need more leaders that will set a positive example to the public about how to keep discussing politics in a civil way. Leading up to the election, this is more important than ever. Stay respectful, know what you believe, educate yourselves, and use your voice. 

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