Some proudly slap stickers on the back of their car that say “Make America Great Again.”
Some prefer a sticker that says “Build Back Better.”
Some sit atop a donkey. Some sit atop an elephant.
But no matter which party you ride with, you shouldn’t choose to automatically despise its followers. In other words, you can dislike Trump or Biden, but you can’t dislike the Trump or Biden voter. Biden received over 80 million votes in 2020. Trump received over 74 million.
That’s too many people on the other side to dislike.
Kevin Diller, Professor of Philosophy and Religion, said it’s easy in a fallen world to make quick judgments and assume the worst about people.
He also pointed out that everyone should be mindful of the Golden Rule.
“Jesus says to even love our enemies,” Diller said.
And it appears the two major political parties have no problem viewing the opposition as the enemy.
A CNN article reports that American National Election Studies (ANES) — by using a scale that asks Americans to rate how they feel about members of the other party from zero (very cold) to 100 (very warm) — has observed, especially recently, hardly any love between the two.
According to the article, “Nearly a majority of Republicans (48%) gave the Democratic Party a zero on the 0-to-100 scale. This marks a nearly 600% increase in two decades. Slightly fewer Democrats (39%) give the opposition a 0, though this is nearly a 300% increase from 2000’s 10%.”
Jesus commands us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. And some of those neighbors support Trump. And some of those neighbors support Biden. Some neighbors are pro-life. Some neighbors are pro-choice.
Are we really doing our best to love all of them, and not just the ones with the same bumper stickers as us?
While common ground and mutual respect may appear more elusive than ever, Diller believes it’s not impossible to find.
He said both sides should aim for deep conversations that allow their respective members to get a feel for where the opposition is coming from. You don’t have to agree, but you can at least recognize what drives their thinking.
And you can listen. For Jeff Aupperle, associate dean of the Calling and Career Office, refusing to listen leads to very little love.
“Love begins with seeking to understand the perspective of the other person,” he said. “It all starts with listening.”
Trump has already announced he’ll be running in 2024. Biden hasn’t officially declared he’ll run for re-election, but he’s alluded to it.
With 2024 creeping closer and closer, we brace for another round of rallies and countless texts from candidates. And, of course, the debates. We say we can’t stand them but we keep tuning in.
“It’s, in a way, consumer demand,” Jakob Miller, Associate Professor of Political Science said. “It’s the reason McDonald’s sells fries and cheeseburgers and not like fresh fruit and lettuce, right? We don’t buy that, so they don’t sell it. In the same way we buy — in the sense of we consume (and) we reward — controversy.”
Here’s an idea: Leave the insult hurling to Trump and Biden.
The rest of us don’t have to get involved.
Instead of being antagonistic, try to be affectionate.
You’re probably not going to convince someone your way of thinking is better.
More importantly, neither side is leaving. The salad has already been tossed.
In recent years, publications like Time and The New York Times have addressed the issue of a possible second civil war.
Let’s try to avoid that.
The people on the donkeys aren’t getting off the donkeys. And the people on the elephants won’t be climbing off their elephants.
So, let’s work hard to see and hear the person on the other side. If we do that, America can truly be great.