My husband and I have split political beliefs, which might be a head-scratcher to some because he and I are a great match. I understand from our life experiences why we have different politics and we both have learned to not only accept, but to even appreciate, those differences. Our conversations about politics are rich, sometimes heated, but always respectful. We are each other’s weathervane for what the other side thinks. Because of this, as my kids get older it has become evident that they have been exposed to both sides of political issues, and for this I am very proud as a parent.
Like most Americans, I have been gripped to the news during the 2020 Election. The unbelievably close, razor thin margins in the electorate are a reminder that it’s important to vote and that our two-party political system is healthy for a democracy. But instead of being viewed as a positive, an opportunity to learn from the other fifty percent of Americans who have different visions for our country, increasingly both halves want to see a one-party country. Instead of dialogue, many dismiss the “other side” as not being as intelligent, or even moral. It seems there will be no rest until the other side comes to its senses and joins the other, leaving Americans ragged, exhausted, and bruised.
There were a lot of exclamations and shock as early results came in last Tuesday night, mostly that it wasn’t the landslide victory for Biden that many people predicted. The essence of the shock was, how could the pollsters have been so wrong (yet again)? And, how could so many people have supported Trump?
The people had spoken. What were we going to do about it? I held my breath, growing hopeful that instead of being dismissed, real dialogue might come once tensions simmered.
But the next morning I saw posts on social media that made me realize we will remain on the same hamster wheel of disconnect. I noticed some Biden supporters deleted their accounts because they were so disgusted. Assumptions flew, dismissing the 70 million people who voted for Trump as people in an abusive relationship. And we wonder why people aren’t honest with pollsters?
We need to stop dismissing people who don’t agree with us. We won’t make inroads until we start talking with one another, and not over social media or text. We shouldn’t all be the same. We should have a two-party system. We can see our division as an opportunity to learn and to grow.
The national media has failed miserably in showing our human complexities. One journalist got it right. On Nov. 4 New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote, “The voters reminded us yet again that the other side is not going away…They know more about their own lives than we do in our information bubbles…Our job in the media is to capture reality so that when reality voices itself, people aren’t surprised.”
Because of the way things are presented to us in simplistic terms, many Americans have one-dimensional attitudes about people who think differently than they do, despite, ironically, living in one of the most “accepting” times in modern history. This is why I will always encourage my kids to put down their phones and go live life. This is why I will continue to remind myself to put aside the remote and pick up a book instead.
Julie Samrick is an El Dorado Hills mother and writer. Her new book How People Get Their Politics is available online and at Face in a Book. Connect with her at juliesamrick.com.