Discussing politics is getting more difficult every day. Outside of your public forums and designated debate platforms, opinions are often fueled by emotions, and progress is stifled by the expanding rift between opposing viewpoints. Despite once being incredibly opinionated and bright-eyed when exchanging ideas on policy, I’ve grown weary of the inane rivalry that exists in the political world. A rivalry that has existed since the beginning of democracy, but also one that is quickly transforming into irrational hatred.

If you’ve seen me discuss politics recently, you’d know that I usually take a pragmatic approach to resolving conflicts. I think we as a society undervalue compromise, and although radicalism is great for sparking interest in a political issue, unity is ultimately the goal for any functioning democracy. This thinking is why I place great value in one of Obama’s best quotes of his presidency: “No party has a monopoly on wisdom. No democracy works without compromise.”

The elitism surrounding intelligence disgusts me. Blatant hypocrisy bubbling up from both parties makes me wonder if our leaders truly devote their lives to maintain the integrity of our democracy. Obviously, the answer for most of these cases is a resounding no.

Still, I remain hopeful and optimistic.

Instead of political discussion being a shouting match between two sides that will never see eye-to-eye, we should thoroughly investigate our beliefs and engage in meaningful exchanges where mutual understanding can be achieved. Rather than confirming our preconceived beliefs with members of a homogenous party, we should challenge each doctrine and truly identify whether our beliefs are for the benefit of the people.

I was once taught that, in order to have a man truly listen to what you are saying, agree with his viewpoint first. After this initial connection, you can diverge from his original belief and share your values in order to truly change a person’s mind on a subject. This is often cited as a slimy business tactic. It’s easy to see why, since most of the convincing comes from deception. No matter how bad this tactic may seem, however, it proves one thing: that empathy goes a long way. Emotion doesn’t have a place in politics, but empathy definitely does.

Sometimes, it’s pretty important to show that you truly care.

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