Dear American Voters: Please Chill Out

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Dear American Voters: Please Chill Out

Dear American Voters,

We have a problem. To state it as bluntly as possible, a lot of you are being assholes.

Every morning when I check Facebook, I witness the same thing. Someone will post about one of the many presidential hopefuls—an article about Ben Carson, a meme about Donald Trump, maybe a video of the latest celebrity supporting Hillary Clinton. For the “sit back and watch” types, cue that GIF of Michael Jackson eating popcorn. For those of us who actually care about the election, this can be downright cringe-worthy.

You may already know what I’m getting at. If you don’t, allow me break it down for you, because the fallout is almost inevitable. Someone with different political views will comment on the aforementioned post and all of a sudden right before our eyes, the trigger is pulled. The post turns into a battlefield. Jabbing words, loads of blaming, and usually, quite a bit of ignorance.

This, my friends, is what I like to call political-shaming.

Why is it that we are allowed to bully others for their political opinions? Please, don’t use the First Amendment as your argument. Yes, we have freedom of speech. As American citizens, our opinions are very much publically allowed. We can say whatever we would like, but do we need to be hurtful if we don’t agree with someone? No. We don’t. Last time I checked, an American citizen who doesn’t share your opinion is protected under the First Amendment just as much as you are. Don’t snarkily comment on someone’s Ted Cruz-loving status that you think the Texas junior senator isn’t actually American because of his Canadian birth. They have just as much a right to their point-of-view as you do, and you shouldn’t make them feel small just because you are in disagreement.

The Republican and Democratic parties are more divided today than in any other point in American history. The polarization continues to grow, and our political-shaming isn’t doing anything productive. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t we founded as one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all? Republicans and Democrats don’t need to agree on every issue. In fact, it’s constructive to have differences. We can and should agree to disagree and eventually come to a compromise. Healthy political discussion has the potential to bring our country together, but from what I’m seeing a lot of people would rather tear it apart.

For the love of decency, can we stop this nonsense? In rare circumstances, this neglect to be tolerant of other perspectives can turn violent. Take for instance the recent news-story of the college student who tweeted that he would destroy a classmate’s laptop just because it boasted a Trump sticker. He said he would “smash [the] bitch’s computer” if the tweet received 7,000 retweets. Nearly 16,000 people retweeted. That’s almost 16,000 people who bought into this ignorance, this refusal to acknowledge that perhaps this classmate had intelligent reason behind her support of the Republican. That is ridiculous.

This will be my second time voting in a presidential election. I take the responsibility seriously, and I don’t like listening to uninformed political arguments that are based on hearsay rather than factual evidence. I don’t like it when someone is deemed stupid because they admire Trump’s view on immigration, or that someone thinks Bernie Sanders-supporters are naïve. Hillary may have been caught lying in the past, but I’d rather read about that without hundreds of snide remarks. At this point, I have no idea who will win my vote in my state’s upcoming primary or in the general election. It’s probable that millions of Americans share my position, and I hope they aren’t swayed by the unproductive, small-minded words that I see everyday on the internet.

There is a reason it’s impolite to discuss politics over dinner. While there is nothing wrong with healthy, fact-based debate and discussion, let’s be real. That’s usually rare. It doesn’t take long for the situation to turn ugly. If you’re guilty of political shaming, stop it. You’re being kind of a dick.

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