I’m sure everyone can easily identify the man featured in the picture above. Upon viewing that photo, you may have been overcome with happiness, flooded with anger and disappointment, or simply shrugged and kept reading. Whatever the case, you know who he is. If by some chance you don’t, he’s the President of the United States of America (also commonly referred to as “the most powerful man in the world” and “the leader of the free world” among other things), Barack Obama. As I’ve mentioned before, politics is my life. Most of my days are spent reading scholarly political articles, analyzing current events, researching policies, and trying to learn more about the people who are elected into our government. Naturally, 2012 was a very exciting year for me–the Presidential election! Virtually everything took a backseat to this, including my school work. It was mostly the only thing I talked about, which probably greatly annoyed my friends and peers.
Ok, so why exactly did I throw a portrait of the 44th President at the beginning of this post? It’s because I greatly admire Mr. Obama and also, the First Lady, Michelle Obama. I won’t go all the way into why now, but these two are the living embodiment of the American dream. They are breathing proof of just how far hard work, determination, ambition and wisdom can take you.
He is also a d-d-de-democrat. Yeah, I said it. A democrat. And so was I. And a hardcore one at that. I was out there, advocating for the platform of my party. I bled BLUE. I would staunchly challenge anyone who disagreed with me and my party without backing down. Agreeing to disagree simply wasn’t an option, because the other person was wrong. I refused to listen to the other side and didn’t care to try to understand them. Within every aspect of government, be it the Presidential, Senate, House or local elections, I was well informed about each and every candidate. But I’d still always vote straight democrat. GOD FORBID I allow my vote to be cast for the incompetent, greedy and selfish Republican party. Yes, that was me in a nutshell. I always asked my friends to tell me if I was ever becoming one of those crazy political fanatics that could only see in one direction. They tried to, but I surely did not listen.
That was me only about 4 months ago. Everyone knows politics is a dirty game, but in recent years, it’s become a full-contact sport. At first, it was just elected officials who we thought were childish and unwilling to compromise, but it’s spilled over into the general public as well. Having different political ideologies warrants the end of friendships (or not even a beginning), relationships, respect for another, and personal attacks. People literally hate others for supporting the other party/having a different ideology. Just looking back at some of the personal attacks on President Obama and Mr. Romney (I’m guilty of this, too) during the election should show you just how low we’ve fallen. Many of them were nasty, unfounded, and simply wrong. Not wrong as in the information was wrong (it may or may not have been), but just wrong to say about your fellow man.
I didn’t realize just how out of control I’d become until after the election was over and President Obama was reelected to his second term. I yelled. I jumped. Yelled some more. Did a backflip. Kidding, I’d be laying on the ground somewhere. But I would have if I could. You get the point, I was overcome with happiness. That’s not the only thing, though. I was excited to see President Obama continue to lead our country in what I think is the right direction, but I was also eager to see my republican friends sulking. Those sweet tears of sorrow. Those looks of disappointment. The angry tweets and facebook statuses. Watching the Republican party retreat in a humiliating defeat with their tails between their legs. I loved every single bit of it. That’s what I enjoyed most about winning. Basically, I was like:
The Republicans were defeated. This was a democratic victory! But I soon found I wasn’t content at all. This should’ve been a victory for our country, not a specific party victory. I examined my behavior throughout the election. The statuses/tweets I made, the things I’ve said to friends, the people I dismissed because of their ideology. I looked at it all, and I was utterly disgusted with myself. I realized by becoming so consumed by the ideology of my party, I no longer cared for the best of everyone within our country. This could no longer go on. I decided to take steps to improve myself. I left all of the clubs and organizations associated with the democratic party. I started to actively listen to what those on the other side of the aisle had to say. I tried to find common ground in what we were debating rather than looking for a winner and loser.
What I’m not trying to say here is that we should all leave our political parties and just hug and sing Oh Happy Day. No, that’s not what I’m saying. It was just the best move for me to make. My ideology is still closely aligned with that of the democratic party. What I’m saying is that if we truly cared about our country, we would try to understand each other better, try listening without the intent of responding.
We’ll always have more in common than we don’t.
Until next time,
(P.S. Sorry for the length)