Living in My Liberal Echo Chamber

DAVID YANDA | OPINION COLUMNIST

Our campaign finance system is bullshit, defunding Planned Parenthood agitates me, a single-payer healthcare system sounds ideal, capital punishment turns my stomach, I’m down for euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research and while lack of immigration amnesty gets me down, June 26, 2015 was a damn fine day. I have a Bernie Sanders for president sign visible from my window and the only thing less trustworthy than Hillary Clinton is an oil company—I’m just joking; Hillary is, and always has been, consistent—HRC does what’s best for HRC every time. Setting Hillary-Bernie snubness aside, my realm of political philosophy becomes practically uniform. Virtually all my politically outspoken friends are liberal, my coworkers are liberal and most of my professors are liberal. If I have conservative friends, coworkers, or professors, their views are kept private.

On its own, this left-wing saturation isn’t necessarily injurious, but, unfortunately, the message riding the majority metro tends to reinforce a right-wrong dichotomy. In my case, liberals right, conservatives wrong. As much as I’d like not to admit it, I immediately and regularly, to some degree, judge my peers riding conservative lines of thought as less intelligent, unworthy of attention or even bigoted—that’s probably why my non-liberal friends refrain from talking politics. My subtle ad hominem tendencies became clear as honest reflection lead to this disheartening realization: I only enter cross-party political dialogue in order to convince the conservative that I’m right and they’re wrong. There is no open-minded discourse between sides, but only stubborn-minded debates. As my political vigor has deepened, my political empathy has dissipated, and as the political season nears its full bloom, I’ve become depressingly aware of this blemish.

Despite this, I will confidently claim that I both appreciate diversity, and find the expanding chasm between the left and right to be unsettling and potentially disastrous. Honestly, though I will confidently claim that I both appreciate diversity, and find the expanding chasm between the left and right to be unsettling and potentially disastrous. We sleep in the same semi-hypocritical boat.

If you want proof, take a look at our Facebook likes—I guarantee there’s not a lot of overlap between the New York Times and Fox News, Kasich and Hillary, or CNN and the Wall Street Journal. And, seriously, what could be more convenient for us to get our fill of political diversity than hitting “like” and following an opposing side’s Facebook page? Yet we don’t. We aren’t interested in giving any form of legitimate consideration across political lines. We’re completely content being confined to our own echo boxes where the expedience of information has come with its own self-validating filtration system—even after being reared in an institution that fosters critical intelligence and diverse perspectives. Perfect. Long live political polarity.

If we fail to understand how we can bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans in our collegiate expeditions, I fear we will never succeed. We need to cultivate a habit of stepping outside our similarly affiliated circles and not dismiss the other side as political chauvinists when dogmatic grievances are found on all sides of party lines. To my liberal friends on campus, lend out your listening ear just a bit more often. To my conservative friends on campus, don’t let a fear of rejection and challenge keep you quiet, and let’s all attempt to remain humble to mend this political isolation we’ve inflicted on ourselves.

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“Belief Superiority is Bipartisan” | Steve Hartsoe

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