Before I begin I would like to clarify that it is not my intention to tell you that my political beliefs are right or that I know better than my fellow students at the College of William and Mary. These beliefs are what works best for me, and like any beliefs, they are subjective. You are entitled to believe what you will. However, I would like to criticize how many people approach dealing with other people’s opinions, especially if those views held are in the minority.
I was raised a moderate Republican, fostered by a liberal education. Every time I go to upstate New York to visit my strongly conservative extended family I feel very liberal, and every time I’m on campus I feel very conservative. Basically, I’m a centrist, and occasionally an anarchist. I think politics are nothing without compromise and am very disappointed by how divided the two-party system has made our country.
This is problematic, especially on a college campus, where the mentality begins to feel like “us or them.” I understand why people can hate Donald Trump as a president, but it goes too far for people to hate Trump supporters. While I am not a Trump supporter (in fact, I am a strong proponent of write-ins), I think there is an unfair bias towards them. This prejudice prevents people from compromising or at least even making an attempt to understand their opponent’s perspective.
Despite not being a Trump supporter, I have experienced prejudice for simply owning a “Donald Trump Presidential License” that I bought for four dollars as a gag so I could joke about having a fake ID. I have a passion for political satire and am currently writing a musical about the 2016 election, because whether you like it or not, Donald Trump is comedy gold. A few friends of mine were talking about someone, and one person mentioned this person was a Trump supporter, which instantly fostered a response of pure disgust, as if this one detail was enough to classify this person as an awful human being.
Nearly every college campus likes to flaunt its diversity, but when it comes to political opinions, diversity appears to be lacking at the College, or at the very least people who hold opinions that don’t conform to the majority are far less vocal, and for very good reason. All I know is that if I were a Trump supporter, I don’t think I would feel very comfortable sharing it.
Ultimately, the only way to achieve compromise is if people are able to share their beliefs without immediate scorn. We can’t fix the divide in our country if we can’t find a middle ground, and that means we have to communicate and it means we have to listen. Don’t expect someone to try to see the world from your perspective if you aren’t willing to do the same for them.
We are all guilty of prejudice, and if we are truly going to be one tribe, we have to act like it. I’m not saying that everyone should become a centrist (although I wouldn’t be against it). All I am saying is to stop treating any point of view that isn’t yours as the enemy.
Email Dylan Koury at firstname.lastname@example.org.