Sarah Grace Goolden
In a tweet earlier this March, President Donald Trump attacked conservative political commentator and former supporter Ann Coulter. This was because Coulter had voiced her disapproval on the president reopening the government without receiving funding for his proposed border wall. She even went so far to say she would no longer support him if he seemingly “gave up” by ending the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. He responded by calling her a “wacky nut job.” How did two like-minded politicians who used to praise each other end up dragging each others’ names through the mud on social media?
Stuffing every individual into two basic political categories, Democrat or Republican, is unrealistic and leaves a lot of room for disagreement. It is an okay way to generalize some basic similarities, but overall, no two people are going to have the same carbon copy thoughts. Even in the same far-right corner of the political spectrum, Trump and Coulter found a way to disagree. They are considered extreme even to most republicans and still the two do no share all the same ideals. How can we expect to pigeonhole humanity into two words?
Additionally, political ideologies have certain connotations associated with them. Republicans are stereotyped as traditional while Democrats are seen as more modern. People sometimes chalk all Conservatives up to being apathetic towards the struggles of minorities while Liberals are often accused of making up problems that do not exist. These are sprawling generalities. Each individual has personal morals and values that may contradict or align with their political identity. Republicans standardly oppose abortions, but being pro-life does not strip that label from you.
Of course, there are more than two political identities, even in just the United States. There are plenty of ideologies to research and adopt, but overall, the big debate lies between Republicans and Democrats.
Our society appreciates categorizing people because it is convenient and considerably profitable. Politicians can slap a name on their platform and guarantee votes on that alone. The opposite party can be demonized and almost dehumanized in the name of politics. When people are divided and classified, it is a lot harder to relate and empathize with those of the opposite party because it is believed they share the complete opposite beliefs of you. There are Republicans and Democrats that might agree on a number of things while two Democrats may not be able to see eye-to-eye on much at all.
Humans and human emotions are complex and almost indefinable. I do not believe the problem lies exclusively with labels themselves, but rather how we treat people based on those labels. No one shares the exact same values, even when they are a part of the same political identity. Trump and Coulter proved that. I believe understanding this can make us more tolerant of one another, which would help our nation in the long run. When we can put aside arbitrary, made-up names and look at the thoughts and opinions underneath, we will be able to solve our problems more efficiently.