Political polarization, a disease that has not only affected American politics but the entire world.
To break it down, polarization refers to a continuous process when people or society become divided into their beliefs, values, and ideologies creating two opposing groups driving us all further apart. This division has made it increasingly difficult for elected officials to effectively govern as they cannot reflect and please both groups’ diverged beliefs and values. The impact is not limited to politics but can be seen in our personal lives interlacing with our relationships, workplace, and overall interactions.
A healthy and natural Democracy relies on communication, as well as, disagreement in order to construct effective public policies; however, if we do not learn to bridge out and discuss with those who share different perspectives and continue to only cluster together with those who conform to our views our Democracy will become brittle.
So how exactly do we tackle this polarization that has planted itself into our society? A good start is to challenge what you think and discuss with others. Our phones allow us access to information from a variety of sources, this has its perks but should be dealt with consciously. Our algorithms are designed to feed our confirmation biases, never exposing us to different perspectives. We can break this vicious cycle by reinforcing our opinions by seeking out several perspectives and sources when encountering new information.
Always question the information you are consuming; nowadays misleading information, also known as fake news, can circulate around faster than news, being aware of this makes you less susceptible to these traps. Subscribe yourself to a variety of publications rather than one, educating yourself from a variety of perspectives can bring you a long way.
Another approach to challenge your opinions is surrounding yourself with a diverse group of people who share different views. Don’t shy away from discussions, these further your understanding and provide a greater well-rounded view, even if you do not agree. Arguing with respect and empathy is also key. We are all human and all long to be listened to, so the next time you encounter a disagreement, actively listen and respect the other person’s views. We have to remove the hostility existing between conflicting groups and also be able to call out our own “groups” faults.
As a society, we have to learn to break through our differences and see we only have one world to share. Listening to another, gaining several perspectives are all beginnings to bridging our groups and learning once again to compromise. Only through working together can we tackle this disease of polarization and maintain our Democracy.