“Are you a Democrat or Republican?” This is typically the first question I’m asked when I start discussing politics with someone. While it’s offensive that they don’t include other parties in their question (that’s another post for another day), I never have an answer. I don’t claim to be a part of any political party, for several reasons. Chief among them is the fact that political parties have become a battleground of “he said, she said” stereotypes. Sadly, this is most evident to me when browsing Facebook and Twitter (although the former seems to be more riddled with negative connotations toward each party). This brings me to the question: what purpose does it serve?
Being a part of a political party has lost its meaning. Saying “I’m a Democrat” or “I’m a Republican” provides instant judgement from the person to which you say it. This is pointless, and does nothing except stereotype the political parties.
Sure, there are extremes in the Democratic party, but there are extreme members of every political party. That doesn’t give someone the right to say “one Democrat is nuts, so they’re all cross-dressing hippies that kill babies and hate bacon bits.” I have seen people that are actually terrified to talk to a member of the other political party, because of all the hype and propaganda that’s been thrown out against that party. We’re all people, living in the same country, and we all want the same basic thing: economic and moral prosperity. We may have different definitions when it comes to “moral prosperity,” but it’s still something we strive for. If we’re constantly bickering about how liberal or conservative others are, we’re wasting time. Time that could be focused on getting better legislation passed, or spreading a message that isn’t getting enough attention. We can’t keep attempting to make the other party look like a group of anti-American conspiracy theorists.
This is why I’m not a member of any political party. Not only would it come with ridiculous, convoluted stereotypes, I would be associated with a group that instituted such stereotypes and lies against the other parties. That’s not something I want to be a part of, regardless who’s involved. That’s not the point of politics, it’s just glorified gang warfare.
Unfortunately, these stereotypes often come out in a political conversation. I might mention one of Obama’s policies, and without hesitation, I’ll get something that might as well sound like “well, Obama is just a gay-loving Muslim that’s turning America into a hoard of zombies that eat sprinkly cupcakes,” from a Republican. The same might go for a Democrat if I were to mention Romney or George Bush. And this is why I feel there’s a major problem with the way we discuss political issues.
So if you want to not sound like a complete imbecile, just don’t do these things. Don’t make wild conspiracy theories. Don’t try to make the other party look so bad that whatever you say sounds better than their ideas. If your ideas are as great as you say they are, there’s no need to make the other party look bad. Stand on your own merits, don’t try to contort theirs into something totally different. Don’t make it about the other party, don’t throw them under the bus, and for the love of all that is good and decent, just discuss the issues at hand. We could get so much farther in this country if we’d do that, instead of the constant back-and-forth crap slinging that we’re doing now.