By: Kevin Mcdonnell
In American politics right now, it seems that the only thing we can agree on is that we don’t agree at all. The only workable solution available now is to either agree to disagree or to consign ourselves to not engage on the issues that matter to us most. In the fast-paced nature of our everyday lives, inundated with a 24-hour news cycle, it seems almost impossible not to gravitate towards the media outlets we’re used to. It is here that Americans get the bullet points on a given political party. It is here that news organizations reduce individual politicians to a few key characteristics. The fast-paced environment of the industry leaves no room for subtlety. Members of a political party are made to be characters in the sitcom of American politics where news stories bear more resemblance to stand-up comedy than actual reporting.
That is not to say that the news media cannot have the tendency to be something great. When consumers of news demand that their media reflect their needs, the industry will ultimately return to its conception. The foundations of quality journalism require journalists not only to be concise, but to be fair and honest. Critiques levied against anyone should be provided with the facts to support it. Democracy thrives when an able-bodied media serves to root out the injustices that happen at the hands of businesses, governments or individual citizens.
However, progress in anything can often be a long and arduous road plagued with many setbacks. In the case of news media, it is hard to deny the immense profits that are to be made sowing political division. Individual citizens do not have to be helpless in creating a political consciousness that doesn’t resemble a boxing match. It is possible for people to discuss politics in a civil and respectable manner. It is important to note that there are some moral imperatives within politics that are and will always be inherently immoral. Racism, sexism and prejudices of any kind should never have a place in American politics. Many Americans feel that it is time for a change, but the disagreement lies in how that change should happen. The only way to reach any sensible compromise is to understand the argument of those on the other side of the aisle. It is hard to craft effective policy if you’ve never heard what the other side has had to say.
Citizens can use their time with one another to seek to understand their fellow citizens. We may not always agree, and we may not always enjoy it, but well-reasoned debate and discussion is the only avenue that exists in which a conclusion can be met. Otherwise we have allowed ourselves to fall victim to an American society in which we allow only the worst of impulses to be left unchecked and the greatest of challenges left unmet. We do not have to agree on everything, and we don’t have to talk politics all the time, but it has to be apart of our everyday lives. A democracy is only as strong as the participants it seeks to serve. When people agree to be apart of the solution change can occur. However, the only way to find a solution is to talk about one first, maybe that is something we can all finally agree on.