Take a moment to think about the issues that are most important to you. Are they economic? Are they political? Are they social?
Now think about why those issues are most important to you. Did a previous experience shape your opinion? Was it something you read in the news? Was it something you saw online?
Now, finally, ask yourself: How many of the people you know would agree with your stances on these issues? How many of the people you don’t know?
Despite what United States politicians and media headlines may suggest, the answer is significantly higher than you think. If this seems intuitive to you, it’s because it should be. Yet, American politicians are doing a splendid job of promoting the opposite. Frequently at the center of the country’s discourse, American politicians understand that their words have just as much impact on the public as their policy voting. Unfortunately for we the people, they aren’t using this power in our favor.
While you, me and a significant majority of Americans agree on current issues such as legalized abortion, legalized marijuana, transgender discrimination protection, paying teachers more, the existence of a dynamic climate, and holding law enforcement accountable, the talking heads on Capitol Hill are paying it very little mind. Even the issues (sans the economy) that most Americans feel are most important now – gun laws, violent crimes, health care costs, voting access, and education – are falling by the wayside in the current state of American politics.
Instead of acknowledging the countless issues that we the people agree on, politicians focus their attention on what their donors want – an American tradition, no doubt. Other politicians are taking it a step further by demonizing their coworkers, dissidents and even certain subsets of the American public. Time and energy that could be spent improving the lives of we the people are becoming increasingly devoted to bills and proposals that seek to “get even” – in other words, baseless revenge for the sake of revenge. These actions have only influenced parts of the public into acting similarly and have largely contributed to this falsely-perceived sense of great division in our country. Instead of trying to quell this perception, politicians are fanning the flames with frequently aggressive rhetoric, with some even advocating for more division.
All the while, the public is forced to sit by and watch as the issues that we the people agree need to be addressed are kicked to the curb and continue to compound. We are frequently reminded that the beauty of American democracy is that all our voices are heard. Yet, in an era characterized by social media giving more people a voice in the world than ever, we are being ignored. Those who we are supposed to depend on to lead have made it apparent that they have lost sight of who they work for. We are told to get out and vote to change it, but observing the chaos without the lens of political parties makes it clear that not many changes in the grand scheme of things.
At the end of the day, we all share similar goals: We want to live an enjoyable life, we want to ensure life will be enjoyable for our descendants, and ultimately, we just want to advance humanity. We are capable of so much more than we are putting forth, and we cannot let lawmakers – a tiny percentage of the American population – impede the progression of our species. We can either spend the rest of our lives attacking the nuances that set us apart from each other – and as such, let politicians win – or we can take advantage of our common goals and our lesser-known shared beliefs that transcend divisive political parties to restore the power to we the people.
It is becoming increasingly clear that we the people only have each other, and it is time to stop letting anyone convince us otherwise. Whether you agree or disagree with these notions, it is important to ask yourself one last question: How much more are we willing to be ignored before we do something about it?