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Letter: How can we get back to civil politics?

Letter to the editor:

Political divisiveness in America is a rampant problem. As the people on each side of the political aisle grow farther and farther apart, it seems like the concept of civil political discourse in our society is becoming a thing of the past.

Families, friendships, and relationships are being torn apart because people are becoming unable to engage with someone who disagrees with their political views.

The days of reaching across the aisle with respect to reach a compromise with those whom which you disagree appear to be far gone. We need to realize as a nation that we will never bring real change and solutions to the problems we face unless we begin to embrace the diversity of the opinions and views that people throughout the country have.

This is not to say that one should abandon one’s values for the sake of compromise. A person’s values are such an important part of who he/she is and we should encourage people to strongly hold on to their beliefs and convictions. But it is possible to remain firm on one’s own beliefs while maintaining an open mind to alternative points of view. Respecting an alternative point of view is not the same as agreeing with it.

It is certainly possible to have a respectful conversation with somebody that one disagrees with about controversial issues while remaining true to one’s own values. Unfortunately, many people have no interest in being exposed to other points of view. That’s problematic for a couple of reasons. First, refusing to explore alternative points of view deprives people of an opportunity to learn and gain knowledge about important societal issues. Second, there will never be any real change or effective solutions to society’s problems unless people of opposing viewpoints can come together and reach a compromise. With the political gridlock in Washington, it’s clear that such compromise is rarely happening at the highest levels of our government.

How can we get back to civil political discourse? First, stick to the issues when engaging in political discussions. Many of these discussions get derailed because people resort to personally attacking the person who holds the views and not the views themselves. Second, voice your disagreements while maintaining respect for the other person’s views. It’s possible to let the other person know you disagree with him/her while still maintaining a respectful tone and attitude. Finally, realize that you will never change certain people’s minds about issues no matter how hard you may try.

The goal should be to simply engage in a productive discussion about the issues while realizing the other person is holding true to his/her beliefs just like you. We can never completely get rid of political divisiveness nor should we strive to do so. Diversity of thought and opinion can be a beautiful thing.

If we as Americans truly want a better future, we need to come to the table with people with whom we disagree and be willing to reach respectful compromises to our problems.

Davis Kimball