But What Do I Know?

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While growing up in a house divided by politics has never failed to entertain me, the separation caused by differing perspectives can sometimes be disconcerting. It isn’t to say that my family brunches and Thanksgiving dinners are plagued by political discussion—in fact, the majority of my family enjoys the great debates—but does this dynamic set the right example for my cousins and me?

Watching my two grandfathers, one a strong-minded conservative and the other a tough liberal, go back-and-forth across the breakfast table has provided me with exceptional insight over the years. These regular discussions have educated me of important political issues better than any classroom has. I can weigh in on gun control,social injustices and foreign policies and obtain profound knowledge from two highly respected intellectuals at each end of the political spectrum. But more significantly, my family debates have made me aware of the political polarization that exists in our country.

It’s not like my grandpas walk away from the table stricken with rage, refusing to make eye contact with each other. They are always civil and respectful of each other (unlike many of today’s politicians), but they rarely compromise. Nothing is ever solved or satisfied by family political discussions. No one ever walks away with a changed mindset. No one ever suddenly favors a different candidate than they did prior. Now, this may be credited to both my grandfathers’ rigidness as strong-willed men with fixed opinions, but this polarization, portrayed in my living room on family gatherings, has bedeviled America’s political system.

The media, divided between hardcore liberals and conservatives, encourages this polarization not by tolerating, but rather mocking, political opposition. Instead of being so caught up with political parties and divisions, the American people should concern themselves with the serious issues our nation faces. Instead of wondering how your opinion will identify you, think of how it will affect the people around you. Not only will this unite people with seemingly opposed views, but it will also enable people to spark positive change without worrying about where their opinions align them.

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But What Do I Know?