The United States is fast becoming a nation divided by a toxic political climate. This divide has always been there. After all, we all have our own differing political philosophies. Many people see the role of government as having a duty to act in the best interest of the nation and that our laws need to be structured with the country as a whole having the highest priority. Others see the role of government as acting in the best interest of the individual in the sense that the role of the United States Constitution is to protect its citizens from government overreach. There is no solid dividing point of right or wrong in either philosophy. In fact, there are a lot of crossovers.
However, there are peripheral factors that have been in the making for a very long time that have changed what many perceive as the legitimate role of government and what our highest priorities should be. Much of the division between how Americans perceive themselves has a lot to do with their priorities. For many, family and self are their major priorities. For others, national military standing, trade policies and fiscal sustainability may be their highest priority. For others still, it can be a mixture or even no priorities at all.
Very few people regard themselves as being stupid, yet many have come to perceive others that disagree with them as stupid or dimwitted. This perception that it’s my view or the highway has led to a new toxic reaction to differing points of view and philosophical outlooks. Many people, on both the left and the right, are becoming less flexible and increasingly intolerant of the views of others. We have a new term known as confirmational bias that has found its way into our vocabulary. Confidential bias has become more prevalent in our culture because of social media. It was not a plot, it’s just a side effect.
Confirmational bias has always been around but the advent of social media has been a major factor in bringing it to the forefront in how it affects our viewpoints. Confirmation bias is basically believing what one chooses to believe. We’re all guilty at some point of confirmational bias. Social media advances our personal confirmational biases as it allows us to pick and choose what we want to believe and it gives us the ability to parley primarily with others who have the same or similar beliefs.
Until we become more cognizant of our susceptibility to be conformationally biased, it will continue to divide us and advance the toxic paralysis that has come to tear our nation apart. We must recognize that we all have a lot more common beliefs than we have divisional beliefs. We all agree in general that sunsets are beautiful. We all agree in general that we have to have laws that define the limits of social behavior. We all agree in general that our country has problems. The problem with the latter is, whom or what we want to blame for our countries problems is a matter of perspective. I think we can all agree too that we should probably tone down this toxic paralysis that has brought us to this point.
How do we do that you may ask? By being more tolerant of other people’s beliefs and stop taking things so personally. We need to stop bashing people personally and start trying to find more common ground. In other words, we need to agree that we disagree and stop trying to cram our opinions down the throats of others. You can’t change a person’s mind by calling them an idiot. However, you do have a chance of changing things you don’t like by simply voting with your heart and your brains. Let’s leave these battles at the ballot box and maybe we can reduce this toxic paralysis that has come to divide us.