Last week, I was scrolling through my YouTube home page and saw a video by Cut, a channel that does a “Divide Us” series where people guess who belongs in what group based on appearances. Given the current political climate, I was intrigued when I found a video titled “Divide Us into Democrats & Republicans”. It was even more fitting that it was posted on Nov. 6, the day that midterm elections were held.
I was barely 30 seconds into the video when one of the judges was told they would be dividing strangers into Democrats or Republicans. In response, the man said, “Uh huh, so good and evil?” Fast forward another minute, another judge cast a participant into the Democrat’s side. Her reasoning? “Because he sounds nice.”
My first reaction was shock. Next was disappointment.
I watched the video in its entirety, and the same theme kept popping up. Once people were divided and then sorted into their correct groups, stereotypes came out. One man judging looked at a participant’s skin color and said with a smile, “I see your complexion going on. I’m going to say you’re a Democrat until proven otherwise.” When the man turned out to be a Republican, who described how he was viewed as a “race-traitor” to some because he didn’t ascribe his political beliefs to his race. At this point, I was disgusted.
To me, the notion of “good” and “evil” politics is a long-standing issue, but I’ve been seeing more of it lately. We’ve been conditioned to believe that one side is “good” and ‘evil’, is whoever’s on the wrong side of the aisle is deemed untouchable. We cannot associate with the “other,” let alone find the common ground to make necessary improvements.
If we want to live in a bipartisan country and truly get things done, this kind of ideology won’t work. Deeming people good or bad based on their political beliefs is not only asinine, but also degrading to that person as, well, a person. Once you’ve written them off for their politics, you’ve made a decision to treat that person as lesser and ignore what could be fantastic qualities.
This could have been the case for Supreme Court justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the late Antonin Scalia. However, it wasn’t. Though they were on opposite sides of the political spectrum, it turns out the two were great friends and would even vacation together with their families. When Scalia passed away, Ginsburg described him as her “best buddy.”
Red or blue, we can all agree that this country is facing divisive times. Now more than ever we need to reach across the aisle with civility, respect and an open mind, but we need to cut the crap. Mutual understanding is attainable only if we put aside labels and focus on matters at hand.