What American Politics Should Be


This is all I'm going to say about politics for a while. Why?

American politics is truly disappointing.

And I'm sick of it because our politicians simply won't work together.

This hit me particularly hard during one moment of the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump last week. Clinton was talking about Obamacare, and I appreciated her explanation that despite its imperfections, there are certain aspects of it that have merit, things we shouldn't completely disregard:

  1. It makes insurance possible for more people than before it existed

  2. It lets young adults stay on their parents' insurance longer

  3. It protects those who are seriously ill from being denied coverage, or having an insurance max and being perpetually money-starved

But then Trump came in with a wrecking ball, like most republicans, wanting to destroy every aspect of it. He mostly ignored the good it does--even though most Americans like the above three aspects--and labeled it among the worst policies in history. No, to him, it needs to be started over with some solution that incentivizes the private sector to be altruistic. I don't understand how something can have such good parts to it (strip the rest of Obamacare away) and yet be the absolute worst.

This accusing the other side of being stupid and evil just has to stop.

I can't stomach this desire on both sides to destroy the other party and their plans, I truly can't. Hillary Clinton is not the most evil politician ever, even if her past is extremely suspect. Admittedly, she's done some extremely stupid, selfish, and dishonest stuff, but if she is elected November, what do those of you who hate her want to happen? Would you like republican politicians to continually cry for her arrest and never work with her on anything because she is Lucifer incarnate?

On the other side of the aisle, Trump is not anything close to the evil of Hitler, even if he demonstrates a lack of virtue on a regular basis. There are tens of millions of people out there who support Trump simply because they are tired of government corruption and ineffectiveness. Are you going to write them off and hope Clinton / democrats tries to work on this country's problems alone?

This obsession with vilifying those who disagree with us accomplishes nothing. Sure, it makes us feel good on Twitter and Facebook, but what other good does it do? And how much good does it stop us from doing because we can't get over our hatred?

Let me expand on what I mean through the example of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick as a Microcosm of American Politics

Honestly, I was annoyed with Kaepernick when he started his protest, partially because I was disappointed in his weak performances for my 49ers. But as time has passed, I've realized, "This protest thing worked." Regardless of his true motives, pure or not, it pushed prejudice to the spotlight. Yet people got so offended by the nature of the protest, they ignored the merits of what it was about (myself included).

Protests aren't meant to make you feel warm inside. They provoke you. When people say, "Protest it in a way that's respectful," it has started to translate to me as, "Do it in a way that we can ignore you." It would be different if he were hurting people, but he's hasn't been hurting anyone, just kneeling during a song. So much time has been wasted thinking about how offensive it is that it's only starting to dawn on people, with the help of other protesters throughout the sporting world, that maybe we should be talking about why many Americans feel discriminated against.

Beyond how bad or not police discrimination is in this country, isn't the conversation worth having if at the very least a lot of people are feeling so hurt? What harm could it do to have true dialogue, the productive kind where people don't call each other idiots or unAmerican? Maybe in talking, we would meet in the middle in a place where both sides could agree that progress can be made all around?

But we seldom have those conversations. We rarely get to that point because, in general, we're too interested in believing we are misunderstood and that the other side is too stubborn to listen.

What American Politics Should Be

Let's look at America and actually do something to make it great again. For starters, let's plan on working together in good faith. Let's agree that we don't have to agree on every issue or topic to make laws and policies that help most Americans by creating them together.

Imagine two engineers looking at dam that's starting to crack. But instead of working together on a plan, they just argue. Meanwhile, the dam is getting worse. Maybe one engineer gets his way for a little and does some work on his own. It's not perfect; the approach needs fixing, yet shows promise. However, instead of taking what's there, the other engineer rips it down and creates his own fixes. Those are imperfect as well. But neither works together, and the dam eventually comes completely undone because neither can make enough progress to actually solve the problem.

This is the state of American politics. We are unwilling to concede that while imperfect, there is good to the other side's motives and plans. There are good considerations and ideas meriting further discussion.

There is so much that unifies us as Americans, things far greater than what divides us. Yet, we focus on our differences and vilify and hate the politics of those who don't agree with us. We find one flaw with another's plan and want to bury the entire thing instead of having good faith discussions.

American politics should be the opposite. It's that simple. We should be seeking win-win situations, but instead each group tends to think it knows what is best for all Americans, with little consideration of what matters most to everyone else. Too many of us believe that the issues that are difficult to find middle ground on, like abortion or marriage, should dictate that we can't work together on the other 95% of things. That we can't find compromise in practical ways, like how to fix a dam.

This saddens me, because I truly love this country. I don't enjoy watching hate rip it apart. Yet I hold to hope that something will change.

I hope leaders will emerge who have this attitude of cooperation we so desperately need. But for now, I'll just watch on and try to be more tolerant and cooperative myself

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