Discourse can go far in curbing political apathy

The greatest challenge to democracy, as practiced in the U.S., is voter apathy and alienation. By dint of that, passionate debate should be cherished.

The free exchange of ideas with a real analysis of how countrywide political issues translate to personal lives is the way we convert polarity into real life.

People tend to socialize conservatively, so everyday differences between viewpoints tend to be gently expressed and less gaping. After all, the cardinal rules of dinner parties are to avoid politics, religion and money, and collecting friends with similar thought processes is a way out of that problem. However, that’s hardly interesting, even at dinner parties.

Passion is important in political debate at the lay level, as much as it is unprofessional anywhere else. When you are at the House of Pies at 3 a.m., stressed about your cousin in the military, your grandmother’s retirement fund or your sister’s exposure to teenage sex in schools, you have real concerns, and the right and responsibility as a citizen to translate into political action. Nobody else is going to see the world the way you do, and no one else is going to prioritize your issues the way you do.

It’s difficult when you’re talking with others and someone says something you find appalling or simply incorrect. The natural response for many people is to not rock the boat, but is that always the most responsible thing to do? Education isn’t just found in schools; it is also found in the great laboratory we live in. Being responsible is not usually to be "good men, who do nothing."

A lack of conversational skills can cause people to shy away from political discussion, thereby promoting apathy and polarization. If you never understand how the "other side" feels in a way you have to care about, you may never understand how to translate your own beliefs into something your fellows can live with.

Eventually we all find valued and respected people in our lives with issues and concerns that translate into political differences from our own sacred cows, but that shouldn’t be a reason to avoid understanding them.

How does one person make room for disagreeing civilly and honestly with someone else, without either party feeling disenfranchised? We all know part of the answer lies in having the courage to face a discussion in which people stop and listen to one another, instead of stopping only to reload arguments.

Dare to find out your grandmother was a riveter, or your multi-pierced friend with purple hair is a fiscal conservative. Step up to the adventure of other people. The simple act of having the conversation could make the world a better place.

Mohammed, an anthropology freshman, can be reached via [email protected]

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