OPINION: A Divided Country

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In 2004, when President Bush was elected for a second term, I sat on the couch in a run-down house where I lived with 5-6 other people and watched as the country decided that more of the same was what felt safe at the time. Of course, I felt disappointment, but since I couldn’t really identify with John Kerry, I took it in stride.

During that election cycle, Barack Obama emerged on my radar and I, like many young people, found him to be everything Bush wasn’t. I knew he would be president when I heard him speak. I didn’t know when, but I knew that would happen.

In 2008, when President Obama was elected for his first term, I sat on my friend’s couch and watched as the country changed forever.  I was a twenty-something college student during Bush’s second term and was heavily influenced by the worsening economy, liberal arts environment, and on-going war. Everything that I stood for went against this president’s agenda. Then, along came Barack Obama, who was charismatic, intelligent, organized, and who spoke to my generation.

At that moment, the divisions in this country got deeper. Subsequently, in 2012 when he was elected again, they worsened. Now, is it a coincidence that his election and the worsening division happened the exact year that social media became a “thing”? Maybe.

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OPINION: Mass Shootings

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Earlier this week a 19-year-old child used a semi-automatic weapon to kill 17 people injuring a dozen more.

Unfortunately, as a 33-year-old woman, this type of news has become “normal” to me and as it is always sad, I’ve become extremely frustrated with the ongoing, cyclical rhetoric surrounding the issue. While waiting for my car’s oil change this morning, I scrolled through Facebook and immediately regretted it.

My newsfeed, like many of yours, is filled with snark and sarcasm instead of debate, ideas, and answers. What baffles me is that everyone seems to be so passionate when these incidents happen, but quickly we forget, we move on, and we just begin to complain about the weather and post videos of people cooking things in crock-pots again.

One of the reasons this blog is important to me is because I got tired of sitting on the sidelines and watching the degradation of our culture and communication. We’ve replaced action with passive aggressive comments, whit with sarcasm, common sense with ignorance, compassion with heart emojis.

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OPINION: Respect

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As a teenager in the early 2000s, I had political “opinions”. Well, I thought I had political opinions, but really they were just regurgitations of things I’d picked up at home mixed with some basic feelings on social issues.

One time, my uncle came to visit and called me out on these “opinions” and I became upset because, in all honesty, I didn’t really have any foundation to base these opinions on. I didn’t know much about the government or politics at the time and most of my “opinions” came from strong feelings. These feelings register now as just a general sense of social awareness and became the foundation for my interest in politics.

However, these weak “opinions” and my unease when attempting to defend them taught me a few very important lessons:

  1. If you don’t know something, say so.
  2. Research your side and defend it.
  3. Be open to civil discourse.
  4. Respect your opponent.

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