Social media has allowed for the largest influx of information and connection to one another in known history. Platforms for alternative media sources have reached a fever pitch, and it may be the worst thing to happen to American Politics since the advent of cable television. Sensationalism is at an all-time high, and now everyone is allowed to contribute. The two party systems were supposed to be a way for Americans to choose representation based on their values and to keep us in balance by giving power to the majority and fair representation to the minority. Instead, it has allowed voters to choose an allegiance to a party like a sports team.
The fans of the other team are then painted as the worst stereotype possible of their end of the political spectrum. Conservatives paint liberals as lazy, entitled, whiny, and out of touch with reality unlike the hard working, job creating, intelligent Conservative. Liberals paint a picture of their own of conservatives as racist, heartless, uninformed, hypocritical, and out of touch with reality, unlike the progressive, compassionate, and intelligent Liberal.
Social media has allowed for everyone to have an opinion, and instead of a spirited intellectual debate that could be the gateway to a new age of the educated voter, we have turned American politics into the bathroom wall writings of the nameless, faceless underbelly of society.
Not So Social Media
Facebook and Twitter pages for websites such as Breitbart, Occupy Democrats, and TownHall constantly floods subscribers with partisan information of well-respected conservatives or liberals depending on your poison being served, owned, or destroyed. Breitbart has become successful as a conservative website with followers looking for the type of news that shows one side of the political spectrum. Occupy Democrats has a name that says it all, it is a website that uploads several videos and articles on any given day bashing conservative leaders and policies. TownHall is another conservative talk show type website that focused ire on thin-skinned liberals everywhere that do not line up with their way of thinking.
This isn’t about one side or another. This is a country that wants to follow a website or a group of websites that will tell them exactly what they want to hear. No intellectual debates on these sites; they are designed to spin every political issue in a way that makes the other side look completely delusional, unqualified, and uninformed. Returning to the sports analogy: it is like watching the same game in two different sports bars. One team’s fans are yelling at the refs for being against them all game, while the others are saying the same thing, but naturally in reverse. Anyone who disagrees with your crazy assessment of the game must be a fan of that other terrible team.
Welcome to American politics at it’s darkest. Obviously, anyone who doesn’t like Trump’s cabinet picks must be lazy, dependent of the government liberal who doesn’t have a clue of how the world works without President Obama to hold their hand and give them free cell phones. The other side of the spectrum is anyone who voted for Donald Trump must hate anyone who is a woman, homosexual, a minority, and must have a great time polishing their guns while watching Duck Dynasty. These are extreme examples but are becoming the norm when one side is describing the other. We must stop looking at a group of politicians and activists telling us how to view our neighbors, our teachers, and our police officers who may have a different opinion than we do. The only way to fix the extreme nature of American politics is to understand at the core what both sets of voters want for this country. The particulars can be debated, but the general prosperity of the nation is what both sides are trying to achieve.
These subscriptions allow the followers to consistently hear about the worst intention of the other side, and how they are ruining the country that we, the team with all the answers, love so much. This leads to arguments in comment sections everywhere, with labeling and constant jousting regarding foreign policy, human rights, and government action. Instead of conversations that portray each side’s best qualities, these cyber chats quickly turn to threats, stereotyping and general extremism. Being opinionated is what this country is all about, but you can play to win while respecting your opponent and realizing in the end; we are all playing the same game.