Respecting Fellow Citizens Despite Ideological Differences

A pencil and check box

Engaging in reasonable political discussion should not require a commonly approved opinion. Too frequently, groups and individuals use shaming tactics to discredit and silence ideas in political discussion. Perhaps you have noticed these individuals; they come from all political affiliations and are most often heard on social media. The mantra of the shamer is “I do not understand how anyone could support the other candidate.” Beyond differing on political position, they cannot stomach the thought of you supporting the other candidate.

It is the nature of the shamer to proclaim that the other candidate is truly disgusting, inciting guilt on supporters. These shamers are far from objective, denying any flaw in their own candidate. This builds a moral high ground, from which they shame those that refuse to accept their socially approved opinion.

Shamers focus on discrediting opinions through personal attacks. The shamer finds the most disgraceful act of the other candidate and asserts that all of their supporters condone such an act. They suppose that it is only with broken morals you can support the other candidate.

This tactic conveniently ignores that voters can have unconventional opinions while retaining their credibility. Votes are not cast in a popularity contest but for a candidate and their platform. Voters should support a platform that most closely supports the values they deem important; you can disagree with the commonly approved opinion and still be rational.

We should not abstain from strongly criticizing politicians and scrutinizing their positions. Nor is it to say that we should keep from examining each other’s political views. We should, however, examine competing values and to recognize the impact the candidate will have should they be elected into office. As a nation, we will disagree on who should enter office, yet we must keep from silencing unpopular opinions and trust in the patriotism of our fellow voters.




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