Politics in 2019 is like walking in a minefield. My parents are political junkies. They prefer to consider themselves well informed. As a result, my brother and I grew up well informed. We grew up knowing how to debate respectfully and how to assimilate and seriously assess different points of view. I’m 35 now and I feel like this is a dying art. This is a skill we’re working to develop in my 14 year old son, because in four short years, he’ll be responsible for voting.
Let me preface this next bit with an explanation of my own history. For several years, I taught fifth and sixth grade at an intermediate school. I was a substitute, specializing in helping classrooms going through traumatic transitions. This included assignments where the teacher had been dismissed based on her inappropriate discipline of problem students and one where a teacher had been admitted for inpatient psychiatric care. These classrooms we’re often disorderly and chaotic and it was my job to assess where the kids were academically as well as working with the school counselor on their mental health.
I’ve spent quite a lot of time watching the impeachment hearings this week. I’ve seen grown adults treating each other worse than my most broken twelve year olds. I’ve seen people bravely stand up to criticism, as well they should when answering a subpoena from Congress. I’ve seen people telling the truth and others making up amazing stories to confuse the proceedings. I’m not naming parties here because the problem isn’t the parties. That’s just another diversion. The problem is that these adults are name calling, lying, and outright attempting to ruin their peers. These supposed role models are behaving like spoiled toddlers who were given the green cup instead of the purple one. My two year old nephew behaves better (and follows the rules better) than the adults who are supposed to be representing their constituents while running the country.
Twitter has become a platform for politics. When social media was contrived, it was an attempt to connect people; a series of platforms on which we could increase communication with connections in a world where it is often too difficult to connect in person. I don’t know about you, but I have neither the time nor the money to grab a coffee with friends. I also have neither the time nor money to visit relatives on the other side of the country. I can, however, connect with them online. Twitter is not a platform on which the impeachment hearing should be held by those intimately involved. Our governing officials should not be tweeting their opinions of the hearing as it is held.
Politics in 2019 is like walking a minefield. It’s difficult to tell the truth from the lies. It’s become even more important to educate ourselves on both sides of every issue. There is no other way to form an intelligent, well rounded opinion. I read Fox news. I read CNN and MSNBC. They grapple different parts of the same issues. They offer different opinions and different perspectives, not all of which I agree with, but all of which I need to hear to create a well-rounded basis for my own opinion and my own direction in voting.
It is only when we hear our opposition, that we can defend our own perspectives. In 2019, with a looming presidential election, it is our responsibility as Americans to be well informed. It’s time for adults to… well… adult. Stop name calling, stop tearing each other down based on party, and remember how to debate respectfully. It’s time to bring back the ability to have a discussion without acting like toddlers bemoaning our hated green cup.