Other opinions do exist

Opinion - Civil Debate

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Opinion – Civil Debate

Cameron Leehey

When it comes to discussing “politics” — the political theater of cable news — people are simultaneously insensitive and too sensitive. For example, several days from now, you are surrounded by family and celebrating a holiday. Everything is going smoothly until someone makes the mistake of bringing up a television talking point within earshot of Uncle Jim. Predictably, Uncle Jim launches into a full-volume rant about how Barack Obama is a tax-raising, terrorist-loving psychopath who wants nothing less than the destruction of America.

Eyes roll, sighs are heard, but on the other side of the room, your cousin Emily, who canvassed for Obama, is seething. Taking Uncle Jim’s assault on the president as a personal affront, Emily begins yelling over him about how Republicans are racist, heartless thugs who take their orders mindlessly from villainous corporations.

What ensues, as you well know, is not a discussion but a shouting contest in which viewpoints are repeated but not exchanged. All the while, everyone else in the room is becoming increasingly bored or uncomfortable, and when the din subsides, both Jim and Emily are angry. Everybody loses.

When it comes to “politics,” there are two kinds of people: those who watch Fox News and those who watch liberal-slanted cable new stations which vie to emulate Fox’s financial success. Both groups believe fervently that the other side is an embodiment of Satan, and both groups are equally eager to pontificate at the slightest of provocations.

These two groups, like it or not, have to coexist not only on the national level, but also at the family dinner table. A central problem is that both groups are too cavalier in expressing the most bluntly offensive rendition of their opinion on “politics,” while at the same time are unable to process opposing propaganda as anything other than a slap in the face.

Some people who are uninterested in the rudeness and the drama inherent in a “politics” argument deal with the situation by deciding to opt out of such exchanges. This is not a solution. Sitting reticently at the table while Jim and Emily duke it out is just as frustrating as participating in the asinine spectacle, if not more so, and it invites repeat performances.

We need to acknowledge some realities here. First, people get very emotional about “politics.” Second, no one arguing “politics” is as educated on an issue as they should be. Third, some of us will never agree with each other. Finally, we’re all in the same boat, especially when it comes to our extended families.

Sometimes people need to be reminded that other opinions do exist and no one can be strictly correct when it comes to ideology. This may all sound obvious, and it is, but in the heat of an obnoxious argument between viewers of television pundits, evoking the obvious can prevent an otherwise pleasant evening from becoming hijacked by overtly aggressive partisan fervor. Good luck, and enjoy the break.