This author enjoys writing about life, love, and books. She enjoys watching anime and munching on burgers.
The 2016 election was explosive, to say the least.
The country was divided between two sides, both of which claimed to fight for justice and freedom. From the libels, to the slander, to the outright lies and threats thrown between the two sides, there's no doubt that 2016 was one of America's most destructive, and controversial, elections.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't amused. While I myself am a liberal, I couldn't help but sit back and watch as the heated debates and the fighting took place. Liberals and conservatives were degrading each other, berating one another as if they were fighting a second version of America's civil war. Hateful tweets have gone viral, families and friends were torn apart over issues like abortion and gay rights, and even religious organizations fought amongst one another concerning which side to root for. I should know. I actually left mine long ago.
While many of us know where we stand, both liberals and conservatives have gone after each other. With one side destroying the other, debates have been known to spark all out violence, and even that doesn't convince them to step down. In fact, even now, the two continue to attack each other. It gets to point where there is nothing more than squabbling and childish fighting.
But in order to analyze this issue, we have to understand the differences between liberals and conservatives. What makes their beliefs so unique? What are the similarities between them? And why is this such a big problem?
Liberals, or liberalism, is a political view that is founded on the basis of freedom and equality. Many minority groups tend to identify as being liberals, because of how inclusive the group generally is. And while liberals come from very diverse backgrounds, they essentially agree on the same ideas. Most liberals support programs that help promote social justice such as civil rights, individualistic freedom, international diplomacy, and gender equality.
In Western society, and especially in America, liberals are a force to be reckoned with. According to The Atlantic, America is seemingly becoming more and more liberal, despite the backlash against them. What's more, they're at the forefront of many issues. For example, they fight for abortion rights, because they believe women have the right to choose.They fight for civil rights such as women's rights, LGBT rights, and ethnic minority rights, and support affirmative action. They believe in abolishing the death penalty, as well as government regulation in the economy.
Conservatives, or conservatism, on the other hand, is a political ideology based on promoting traditional values in the context of time and culture. Conservatives tend to emphasize tradition, as well as human imperfection. They also promote social stability. Of course, because of this, the meaning of conservatism has differed over time. However, for the purposes of this article, we will discuss key features of Western, and especially American, conservatives.
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Many conservatives believe that life begins at conception, and that despite a woman's reasons, aborting a baby is the same as murdering a human being. They don't support affirmative action, because they believe it gives individuals an unfair advantage because of their race. They believe the death penalty should be kept, and that the government shouldn't regulate the government. Human rights, however, aren't a focus for conservatives; instead, value is placed on tradition and self-sufficiency.
Despite all their differences, both liberals and conservatives carry a similar "dislike" for one another. They both think that the other is wrong, misinformed, or simply too lost in their own ideologies. They both believe that they're smarter than the other, as well as more moral. But while the tension clearly exists, more often than not, the divide is buried between layers of similarities, whether it be culture, interests, language, or even the occasional friend of a friend of many more friends.
But it's this same tension that has boiled over into devastating friction between the two sides, something that's grown more and more troublesome over the last decade. During the 2008 election, many citizens were torn between Obama and McCain, some of which based their votes on race, others on ideology, and even still, others because they represented a change that they wanted, whether it be to stabilize their own traditions, or seek out others. It happened again in the 2012 election, between President Obama and Mitt Romney.
It's this outcome that has led to more and more divisions. Because America is already suffering from a whole host of divisions, there's always another reason for more. At Middlebury College in 2017, a liberal student had attacked a conservative professor, sparking a dark, and much needed, reminder about what free speech truly means. In America alone, most terrorist attacks are done by the alt-right, a group that has extreme conservative ideals. And while Republican Representative Sean Duffy claimed that white terrorists are rare, statistics prove otherwise.
The Human Error in Politics
What's even more tragic about these differences is that these two parties refuse to acknowledge the other as human. Politics can be a monster at its best, and it's often the subject of many former friendships, relationships, and even families. It manifests itself within both liberals and conservatives, and forces them against each other. One group wants change while others want stability. One focuses on human rights, others want to protect themselves. But what this branch of philosophy forgets is the fact that both groups are grounded in what they believe is best for America. They both have a universal moral compass that we, as humans, both follow.
Take fear, for example. When humans perceive fear, they tend to look out for themselves and their loved ones, withdraw from situations where they believe to be in danger. They prioritize their safety far more than, let's say, work for peace. Other examples include having, love, admiration, pain, and loss.
Liberals and conservatives have many similarities, as well as differences. But whatever their focus is, in the end, they're just that, traits. And while we can discuss these things in in good, clean debates, tragedies have sprung up from those debates. Miscommunication, death threats, lies, rumors; they make monsters out of ordinary human beings. We get so caught up in our own ideologies and arguments that, in the end, that's it.
Even so, we always have the independents and the moderates.
Ah, those moderates.
Liberal or Conservative
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.