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July 2 2018

Millennial Monday: Political disagreements do not need to lead to harassment

by Betsy Pearson

Our country is in a very heated political moment that only seems to get hotter. Over the past few weeks we have been bombarded with news of continued harassment of Trump administration members. First it was Kristjen Nielsen and Stephen Miller, then it was Sarah Sanders, and most recently it was Elaine Chao defending her husband Mitch McConnell. Fueling this movement is Maxine Waters, calling for more confrontation:

“If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. You push back on them. Tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere!”

In a recent Politico article, we were told the stories of  millennials working for the Trump administration and the struggles they faced while living in D.C. The ‘swamp’ for a young Trump supporter is depicted as a hostile environment, citing “horror stories about being heckled on the street.” Though, I think this issue is much larger than the Washington, D.C. area.

Shaming Trump supporters has become common. Everyone from your neighbor to your hair dresser seems to be publically announcing their political views; and with all this political malice in the air—what are you supposed to do if you disagree with each other?

We should be engaging civilly with people with whom we disagree. However, we all too often approach political opposites with the sense that we disagree with everything they stand for with the very core of our beings. Briahna Joy Gray explains, “They are not mere disagreements, but deep moral schisms.”

This dehumanization across party lines has led to the state of our political affairs. Gray adds about the pressure felt to attack across the aisle, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not taking seriously enough the harm done.”

But shaming does not work. According to a sociological study, “Unlike guilt, which is tied to specific acts of wrongdoing, shame provokes a holistic negative self-evaluation that impedes one’s ability to internalize and learn from bad behavior.” By shaming, harassing, and protesting people you disagree with you are never going to win them over to your side.

Instead, we should talk about why people voted the way they did in a civilized manner. We need to discuss policy, intentions, and our experiences that led to our political views. Do not demonize and assume the worst of someone because you don’t understand them.

In these highly polarized times, use this as an opportunity to get to know differing opinions and do research on your own. Share this article and start a civil debate!

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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