From the penning of the Constitution up to now, Americans have had the right to freely express and stand behind their beliefs. However, when hatred stains this privilege and drowns out any chance for civil discourse, it will not be long until the freedom Americans initially stood for turns into chains that inhibit the ability to connect, empathize, and learn from one another.
A prime example of the recent deterioration of American civil discourse is found in the relationship between the Republican and Democratic parties. Observing the media alone, both parties paint the other as dumb, irrational, and sometimes, as monsters. Heightened polarity has translated to a unique stalemate; neither party can call itself victorious if their only feat includes baseless name-calling and stomping the opposition into the dirt.
Though countless policies pin Democrats and Republicans against each other, the topics of gun control and abortion will be addressed, not to glorify either position, but to reveal underlying similarities and shatter the misconception that the other party is a monster. It’s about time Americans start listening to each other and acknowledge both parties as human. It’s time to return to the basics.
Gun Control: Security and Safety
Regarding gun control, one might instantly picture a protesting Democrat, eager to confiscate all of the nation’s guns or a crazed Republican gripping tightly onto a rifle collection. Yet there is more to gun control policy than these stereotypes portray. Republicans hold on to the Second Amendment of the Constitution, believing it is within every citizen’s right to protect themselves, with guns being an option of protection. Republicans desire to uphold constitutional rights and allow citizens the resources to defend themselves and their families.
Democrats value a similar kind of protection but in a different sense. While Republicans focus more on the liberties provided by the Constitution, Democrats emphasize the sociological impact gun policies have in America. As much as guns can be used for security, it is no mystery they can infringe on safety in streets, schools, and homes. Thus, Democrats believe in the reduction of gun violence through strengthened background checks and screenings.
Examining both parties, it is clear that each stands for the protection of American citizens. The difference lies in the method of how that protection should play out. But their similarity is stronger; they both long to see a safer America.
Abortion: Right to Life and Livelihood
Concerning abortion, the Republican stance is simple: every person has a right to life, including unborn children. Their desire is not to purposely limit the rights of mothers; instead, they seek to defend life in the womb — viewing the unborn as equal to all human beings.
On the other hand, Democrats advocate for the reproductive rights of women. Without reproductive freedom, they believe equality for every woman will be out of reach. Hence, their goal is to provide safe, affordable abortion operations in all communities without discrimination. Their attention is drawn towards the equality and health care of women.
The irony comes in once again. Democrats desire to protect the livelihoods of mothers. Similarly, Republicans value the rights of women, but they also believe the unborn needs to be fought for as well. In the end, they are both fighting for equality and liberty.
Just from examining two policies, the idea that the other party is built from irrationality is disputed. Neither party formed their beliefs out of spite; they both found something worth fighting for. This is not to say that we must accept every party’s beliefs as morally right and true. But we should at least acknowledge peoples’ ability to freely develop their opinions and beliefs, however different they are from our own. Standing behind what you believe in is a beautiful freedom that every U.S. citizen should take advantage of. Certain beliefs on topics like gun control and abortion may very well clash with others. However, if we are to ever improve ourselves, move towards positive change as a nation, and offer hope to the future generations of our country — we must first recognize each other as human. If we find America worth fighting for, then we must start to listen and acknowledge that the other party is made of people like us — human beings who also found something worth fighting for.