Elicia Tedrow has been a content creator for over four years. Currently, she’s traveling around the world to places like Colombia, South America, and writing about technology, marketing, entrepreneurship, and life. The views and opinions expressed in this article are hers and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Matador Network.
Staring at the huge chunks of red states on the US map, I kept asking myself: “How is this possible? What am I missing? What do so many of my fellow Americans see that I don’t?”
I couldn’t understand how so many people in our country could vote for a candidate that has been endorsed by the KKK, is infamous for degrading women on the regular and has no concept of how immigration works.
I could create a laundry list of reasons that you shouldn’t vote for someone like Donald Trump. There are hundreds of really great ones, and I could rant on them all. But, the more I struggle to grasp the fact that we are going to be living in a Trump America, I keep going back to one piece of advice that I’ve heard since I was a preteen. “Don’t talk politics at parties.”
I can’t count the number of times that I have been told not to talk about two things at social gatherings: religion and politics. I tend to think that your religion is none of my business. However, politics, that is everyone’s dang business.
If we can’t talk about politics within our own network, among friends, family and loved ones, whose opinions we trust and value most, then where can we talk about them? Where should we talk about policies and laws that affect our entire country and impact our life?
Can we talk about it at work? Nope, I tend to agree with that one. I don’t know if I could stomach knowing that the person I have to sit beside in the office everyday voted to live under Trump’s rule for the next four years.
Can we talk about it at school? Yes and no. School seems like the ideal place to discuss politics, right? Wrong. In many classrooms, teachers walk a fine line. If you went to a private school with tuition, you may have had more frequent and deeper conversations about the inner workings of the US political system.
However, if you had a free public school education like me and over 90 percent of America, you probably didn’t talk about it much. When you did, it was superficial. You probably learned the US presidents and had to memorize the names of political parties, but what each stands for? If you had asked me in school, I wouldn’t have had a clue. Honestly, right now, it’s a little hazy. But that’s not because I’m ill-informed. It is because based on their behavior, Democrats and Republican don’t seem to stand for much anymore, except ensuring that their party candidates get in and their personal agendas are met.
Teachers just scratch the surface, but it’s not their fault. Talking about politics in the classroom, beyond a purely historical level is frowned upon in many schools. The thought of discussing such a heated, socially repugnant topic is too much. But, here’s the good news: politics should and can have a place in the classroom, as long as that place remains non-partisan. (If you are in the teaching profession and struggle with balancing this fine line, I recommend a great book called The Political Classroom by Diana Hess and Paula McAvoy.)
Talking about politics is a skill. Like any skill, people need to learn how to do it. Right now, we don’t. Instead, we avoid it until it blows up in our faces every four years on Election Day.
So, we can talk about it in school, but it shouldn’t be the only place that we do. I’m putting politics back on the dinner table. Sure, maybe you don’t want to talk about it over the first, second or even third time you meet someone. However, as you build trusting relationships, how can you not discuss the politics of your country? These are the people that have been elected to represent you and lead your nation.
You wouldn’t want to hire a new boss without ever knowing what changes he or she plans for your company? So, why would you want to elect someone without ever fully understanding what policies he or she will propose for your country?
Officially, my dinner table is open for political discussion. Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to push my political beliefs down your throat. That isn’t a discussion. Discussions are two-way communication, in which each participant switches between speaker and active listener.
What I am going to do is keep my mind open. I’m going to challenge you to change it. With checked facts, real anecdotes and hard data, I want to discuss why you believe in this candidate or that policy. I’ll listen. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I will change my mind in every case.
But, changing someone’s opinion isn’t the point of discussion. It is to broaden your perspective and realize that the world is bigger than the bubble that you live in. Discussion fuels progress. When we don’t have discussion, like a fire, progress dies. My final message to you: Talk about politics.
This article originally appeared on ExtraNewsFeed and is republished here with permission.