Guest blog: one of the most important this year

Periodically, Thinking Man’s Politics will feature guest bloggers, some of whom may hold opinions that differ-sometimes widely-from those of ‘Thinking Man’.  But it’s important not to live in a ‘echo chamber’ where we only want to hear people and things we already agree with.  Part of what makes us better, and makes us better able to defend our opinions, is to challenge ourselves from time to time, and to be open to opposing views even if we ultimately still don’t agree with them.

The blog entry below is taken from an article written by Connor Touhey, a budding journalist and current Opinion Editor of the University of Wisconsin’s Badger Herald.  The piece was written prior to the election but the message still holds and probably is even more important now than it was then.

He starts:  The election may be on the final lap, but the issues it’s unearthed prove we have miles to go

It is undeniable that this election is different from any other in modern American history. The unparalleled level of hostility between Democrats and Republicans is alarmingly high. It has become kind of scary.

I will not pretend that I have not contributed to that anger.

I am keenly aware that a good portion of what I write is divisive. I spend quite a bit of time — too much time — feeling irritated with conservative policies in Wisconsin and the current state of the Republican Party in this country. On top of that, I cannot stand Republican nominee Donald Trump and many of the things he stands for.

But as much as I personally and politically despise Donald Trump, and the fallacies and ignorance he has spread in the last year and a half, some of his followers’ views will have to be addressed regardless of who wins next week.

To be clear, I am not talking about the racist, misogynistic and bigoted attitudes that Trump and some of his followers exhibit. I have no interest in trying to reason with those that feel the need to blame women and minorities for everything. I would venture to guess that a good portion of the population in this country feel the same way I do about that.

But Trump supporters, like the rest of us, have real concerns about this country and its future. The way they express those concerns may not be acceptable to many of us, but their realities and fears for the future are certainly worth discussing in some cases.

So let’s try to do just that. Let’s actually try to listen to each other.

At the end of this election we are all still going to be here. We all still have to get up in the morning Nov. 9 and go to school or work. We will all still pay the bills, buy groceries and root for our favorite sports teams.

At the end of this election, we will all still be Americans, whether you like the president or not.

I certainly do not expect all of us on different sides of the political spectrum to sit down and sing Kumbaya, but our attitudes toward views different than our own need to change.

Our willingness to discuss, understand and compromise needs to improve.

That starts the day this election ends.

Find a friend you disagree with politically and invite them out for a beer. Try to listen and discuss rather than yelling incoherently at each other.

In all likelihood, it’ll help you to better understand their views. And if we can successfully do that, hopefully this will have been the first and last election of its kind. Knock on wood.

Even if it doesn’t help, you’ll be drinking beer and beer is awesome. At least that’s something that most of us can agree on.

Connor Touhey (ctouhey@wisc.edu) is a senior majoring in political science, journalism and history.

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