By: Abe McCarty – Political Science
It’s that time of year again, election season. Tis the season for political ads, countless yard signs, annoying pop-up ads before any online videos, and worst of all, people with uninformed political opinions.
Now don’t get me wrong, I believe whole-heartedly that everyone is entitled to their opinion, especially when it comes to politics, and I believe that being able to express an opinion is one of the most beautiful things about this great nation. But what is not beautiful is when someone tries to exercise their first amendment right in ways that do not benefit anyone or the democratic process in any way.
Before I begin my rant on politics, you should know if you take away just one thing from this article let it be this: if you have an opinion on politics, you should be registered to vote.
If you are not, it’s more than likely you are wasting your time, and everybody else’s for that matter.
So let’s start with the basics. First, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and you should respect that. Politics in this country affects people in different ways and it should.
Everyone is different.
We all come from different backgrounds and we all do different things. That’s what makes America so great, the fact that so many different people can believe in the same ideals that are outlined in the Constitution. Even though our opinions may differ, acknowledge and respect that we all have one, and they all are equal.
Second, know your facts, and more importantly, know where they came from.
The key word in that last statement is “facts.” There is a clear difference between what is fact and what is opinion, and, unfortunately during election season, it can be very hard to differentiate the two.
Statistics are pretty easy to manipulate or frame in such ways to argue any point. It all depends on the ways one asks a question and the person paying people to ask those questions.
Spouting off statistics from “imrightyourewrong.com” doesn’t count. If you’re going to base your opinion around statistics (which isn’t the greatest strategy for a successful political argument anyway) make sure stats come from a nonpartisan source such as Pew, Gallup, or better yet, a government source (websites that end in .gov).
Third, instead of trying to point out the differences between your opinion and one that differs from your own, challenge yourself to find the similarities in both opinions.
Constructive debate can only be achieved when common ground can be established between both parties.
From there, different stances on issues can be better understood when both parties have an understanding how an issue affects the other. I am lucky enough to have Bob Taft as a professor, a man who served two terms as governor of Ohio. He shared a very insightful quote in class the other week. He said, “If you are in a debate and you are constantly denying, you are losing.”
Nothing can be achieved if no one can even agree on the facts.
Positive statements will always be worth more than negative ones. Know your candidates, know their opponents and know the issues they both are trying to address.
This does not mean watch all of your candidate’s ads and sound bytes and go from there. Get your information from a place as close to the source as possible.
Go to their websites and to their opponents’ websites, watch debates and overall, reach out to them and ask questions like, “Why should a UD student vote for you?”
No form of media can replace one-on-one socialization.
This type of dialogue acts as a backbone to democracy, and it should remain that way. Unfortunately, technology in some ways has complicated this.
I don’t care what your opinion is; all I care about is that it is informed, and you can recognize that your opinion does not affect everyone in the same ways it affects you. Whether you are a blue-bleeding liberal or a red-hearted conservative, just remember you are one of the luckiest people in the world because you live in America, a place where you’re allowed to have your own opinion and make it count for something.
The reality is that many places around the world don’t have that luxury.