Smalewitz: We shouldn’t let the candidates influence the way we debate with each other

Tamra Smalewitz

Imagine this: the presidential candidates sit down to share their views to each other and those watching the debate. They are calm, considerate, and respectful of each others views. They use logic and reasoning, and do not revert to backhanded remarks and irrelevant attacks on the other candidate’s character. Nice image, right? Unfortunately this isn’t our reality, and maybe it wont stop at the candidate level, but we have a choice to make when it comes to whether or not we will follow their example.

Just because the presidential candidates often don’t behave like that does not mean we all have to take lead from them. Every presidential candidate before us has trashed talk or taken one another’s views down and they do it because they want to win.

We watch and listen to how they candidates treat one another during public debates and even on social media, and with the amount of unavoidable election coverage, it can certainly influence the way we treat others with differing opinions. It is time to stop taking lead from the candidates and start taking lead from ourselves. You can be the change. You have the ability to share your views and treat opposing views with respect.

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Bashing each other’s views is argumentative, unproductive and immature. And sometimes even ill-informed or naiive. If you are going to talk politics, do it in a way that doesn’t make someone else feel uncomfortable or embarrassed of their own personal views.

Don’t get me wrong I think it is great that so many people want to get involved and talk about politics, but if you are going to talk about them, consider the following ways to be courteous while engaging in debate.

  1. Know your facts. I cannot stand it when people start talking about politics with others, but when asked why they like that candidate they have no answer. If you want to talk politics great go for it, but know their standing on issues that you agree with. 
  2. Don’t force your ideas on other people. We are all different people with different thoughts and opinions, and many of us won’t vote the same way or agree on the same issues. It’s okay to differ with others that is what makes America a free country. So get over it.
  3. If you can dish it, you can take it. When you tell everyone your political views, do not just steamroll someone who opposes you. Let them talk about why they support another candidate,e specially if you’ve already gone on about why you support whoever. 
  4. Take a breathe and back off a little. Cut the frequency of the politics talk and maybe talk about other things. Nobody is going to remember what you say now come the actual election time, but if you talk about it closer to the elections I bet it will be more beneficial and even influential. 
  5. Stop bandwagoning. Many individuals will jump on a candidate’s platform because their friends are voting for them, their family, or because they want to seem cool and like they know what is going on in politics when they are actually too lazy to figure it out. Just because everyone in your friend group may “Feel the Bern” does not mean you have to also. Research the different candidates running and then make an informed decision. Your friends will be more impressed that you know the different platforms your candidate stands behind, and it may make them realize they have no idea what their candidate is even running to change.

All this bashing on one another and the presidential candidates makes a lot individuals not want to vote. Less and less people to become interested in participating because it becomes more of a he-said-she-said popularity contest instead of an election based solely on who can best run our country. American University in Washington D.C. found that “Average voter turnout in the 2008 presidential primaries rose to its second-highest level ever.” Whereas the website FiveThirtyEight found that “Republican turnout is up and Democratic turnout is down in the 2016 primary contests so far.”

It is not a bad thing that our generation engages in political discussion and has passion for their individual stances and opinions, but that can be maintained while remaining civil, on-subject and respectful of differing perspectives. Educate yourselves before you vote or even engage in a discussion related to current politics, and no matter whose name is on the ticket just get out and vote. If you want to talk politics just be willing to listen to others around you and give them the courtesy you expect when you share your views with them.

Collegian Columnist Tamra Smalewitz can be reached at hmcgill@collegian.com or on Twitter @tamrasmalewitz.