Political conversations have been withering away from daily conversations as they tend to get too "heated" and create an awkward social vibe. But in today's political climate, it's important to ask, rather than assume.
This morning, I assumed that my friend didn't seem interested in our conversation, so I shut myself down and changed the topic. I should've asked my friend if he was listening for reassurance, instead of making myself feel insignificant. Instead, I chose to dismiss the problem and make things awkward.
When we assume, we automatically enclose the other person's boundaries of perspective. We make them narrow-minded. Instead of responding to the topic that was brought up in the assumption, they respond to our ignorance within the assumption. The conversation turns into an argument instead of a debate. We don't take the time to listen to each other because we're too busy of thinking of alternative ways to reinstate our own beliefs. In an attempt to present different political perspectives without the heated interruptions via vocal confirmation bias, Fresh U created a digital forum for conservative and liberal college students to ask and answer each other's questions pertaining to their political views.
A (literally) hot issue on both sides of the spectrum is climate change. The most common concern in relations to the existence of climate change is the lack of the 3 percent of scientists that don't agree that climate change is caused by humans.
1. Bill Mansiantima, Democrat, University of California Irvine:
Why do so many conservatives refute climate change?
Anonymous, Independent, University of Southern California: "Climate change is real and there is significant evidence that it is caused by mankind. But we would have to live pre-Industrial Revolution lifestyles to even hope to make a difference. I also doubt the apocalyptic forecasts that climate change will supposedly cause. However, I do believe that we must find ways to make renewable energy sources like solar energy or wind power economically viable. We have to stop relying on foreign powers like Saudi Arabia for oil, and we also should be concerned with pollution. I think we should also be more open to nuclear energy as we continue to find ways to make it a renewable energy source."
2. Anonymous, Republican: How is climate change real if the Earth has natural warming and cooling periods and not all scientists agree with it?
Anonymous, Democrat, University of Texas at Austin: "Earth does have natural warming and cooling periods. In fact, science has used the natural cycles to calculate where we SHOULD be at in temperature based solely on nature. We are much, much higher in temperature than we would be just based on the natural cycles. A quantum chemistry ... class will explain to you how greenhouse gases work, and an extensive data set of yearly temperatures will show you that spikes in temperature coincidence exactly with spikes in atmospheric carbon. Not all scientists agree (even though a majority do) likely because large rich companies burning fossil fuels ... [pay] them off to avoid regulations. Take a look at the history of climate change research and you'll find it dates back to around 1900, long before 'the liberal agenda' and right around the time that the Industrial Revolution began spewing carbon into the atmosphere. In short: We have every reason to believe that oil, gas and coal companies would corrupt a few scientists to spread doubt, and no reason to believe that it was 'the liberal agenda.'"
Speaking of how influential money can be, many students raised concerns about capitalism.
3. Anonymous, Socialist, Norco College: Do you without a doubt believe that capitalism is not fostering an attitude that creates poverty and suffering? If so, can you explain your position?
Anonymous, Republican, Purdue University: "I believe that capitalism has the power to end poverty and suffering. While the system is flawed in its current state, I believe those with more wealth are a great source of assistance for the impoverished. I come from a millionaire family and we do a lot of philanthropy. I also believe you should be rewarded for hard work. Capitalism makes that happen."
Anonymous, Republican, Central Carolina Community College/University of North Carolina Chapel Hill: "Yes, I believe that, without a doubt, capitalism doesn't create an attitude which creates poverty and suffering. Indeed, capitalism alleviates suffering. In a capitalist society, everyone is allowed to maximize their productivity. By doing this, poverty and suffering are alleviated. The question being asked here almost reimposes the idea that poverty and suffering are unique to capitalist systems. They aren't. They have existed since the origin of man. But, what capitalism does is reallocate resources to raise people above this base level of life to a system where fewer and fewer people suffer."
4. Anonymous, Republican: What exactly is the "fair share" of someone's income that he or she has earned and should be able to keep (in relation to taxing more of the wealthy)?
Anonymous, Democrat, University of Texas at Austin: "There's no mathematical formula. The idea behind it is that people like me, never getting a 'hand out' and never having to get a job in high school to eat up my time ... could afford piano lessons to put on my college resume, always paid for tutoring where necessary and lived happy and healthy because my parents had the free time to give me attention and afford good food. It's not that 'no one ever gave me a hand out, why should I give other people hand outs,' but rather, 'I was never in a position to need a hand out because all my hand outs were from my parents, which is an automatic advantage.'
Bill Mansiantima, Democrat, University of California Irvine: "Taxes affect poorer people more because they have less money to give, so they shouldn't be paying ... as high taxes as richer people because they cannot take that big of a hit to their income and still have good living standards. Also, lowering taxes on the wealthy or trickle down economics do not work because you are expecting rich people to be generous and give back without knowing that the number one goal of any wealthy person is to stay wealthy."
Poorer communities are obviously struggling in comparison to wealthier communities, which leads us to the question of how we can effectively help them.
5. Anonymous, Republican, Adrian College: What is more important to you: Teaching new skills to those in need or giving out money to those in need?
Re'Nyqua Farrington, Democrat, Nova Southeastern University: "Education and economic stability aren't mutually exclusive problems. They are so intertwined in this capitalist, American society. The education major in me wants to say teaching new skills, but that doesn't mean much to people who can't afford basic necessities."
Bill Mansiantima, Democrat, University of California Irvine: "In my opinion we need both; teaching new skills to those in need will definitely help them but that is a long-term option as it may take weeks even months for these people to learn and excel at the skill and be able to find a job that allows them to do said skill. But in the short term, these people need money now, they need food now and they need healthcare now."
As the old saying goes, "You can't teach a man to fish without a pole." However, an anonymous independent attending the University of Southern California provides insight on being assisted by others. He stated that as "a non-white person who was raised by immigrants living under the poverty line for most of my life, I want to have control over my life. I don't want to rely on others to help myself up, nor do I want to force others to help me up. I would much rather form consensual relationships in which I can help others or someone can help me."
As you can tell, everything in life is a debate ... even life itself is a debate.
6. Anonymous, Republican: If abortion isn't murder, then why is it considered double murder when a pregnant woman is killed?
Brandon Lim, Democrat, University of California, San Diego: "Though I am pro-choice, I do see hypocrisy in such a charge for the homicide of a pregnant woman. The only reasonable justification (from a political and not lawful perspective) for such a scenario is that when a woman is murdered, she does not choose to terminate the pregnancy. Rather when a woman chooses to have an abortion, she is exercising her sovereignty over her body."
7. Anonymous, Republican, Montana State University: How is allowing Muslims and Sharia law to become part of American society a furthering of women's rights?
Anonymous, Democrat, University of California San Diego: "As a non-Muslim, along with the majority [of] America, I am not well educated on the aspects of Sharia law. Though I have seen from an interview that 'Sharia law must follow the lands on' which Muslims live on, I am not fully aware of the full aspects of Sharia, neither are the majority of Americans. As a gay Catholic, I interpret the Bible and my beliefs to suit my situation. Clearly, there are conservative aspects that forced me to think that my own faith was degrading and homophobic, however, finding my peace with this religion has enabled me to accept the fact that I should look past what other Catholics may believe or practice. In relation to Sharia law, we cannot assume that ALL aspects of their law are being followed and believed by Muslim-Americans the same way one may think that ALL Christians or Catholics are homophobic and unaccepting. 'Allowing' Muslims should not even be a question that we should be asking. It is within the Constitution that freedom of religion is granted to everyone living within the United States. Enabling the women of this religion to practice what they preach furthers women's rights because it enables them to practice their culture. They may even find empowerment through practices as simple as a prayer. The only thing preventing Muslim-American women from obtaining women's rights is the constant discrimination and Islamophobic rhetoric that is taking place in our 'free country.'"
Criticisms of the President
Living in a free democracy is a privilege in comparison to countries that are censored under a dictatorship. There has been a lot of disdain towards the Trump administration lately, which has raised concerns from students.
8. Anonymous, Republican, University of California Irvine: Why is the liberal agenda solely on opposing Trump rather than fixing the real issues that haunt our nation?
Elizabeth Williams, Democrat, George Washington University: "The liberal agenda does not solely focus on opposing Trump. Oftentimes, because Trump is our president, Trump's actions are at the center of liberal arguments and proposals. This is because Trump and our currently Republican-dominated legislature are taking actions that liberals oppose, such as the American Health Care Act or rolling back Obama-era protections for LGBT individuals. Trump is bound to come up in these discussions because he is our current head executive and affects these policies."
Anonymous, Democrat, George Washington University: "Trump is the reason for the real issues that haunt our nation. More specifically, his actions/inactions are fueling our nation's biggest issues. For example, the AHCA would take healthcare coverage away from million(s) [of] Americans – which will widen the income inequality gap and cause millions of Americans to lose access to vital healthcare services. These are the biggest issues facing the country and they're being exacerbated by Trump's policies."
9. Oonagh K, Democrat, Elon University: In your opinion, what are some common misconceptions about conservatives and how do you wish to dispel them?
Anonymous, Republican, Adrian College: "A common misconception about conservatives is that we're all unwilling to listen and completely unchangeable. I love hearing other people's side of the story and learning why people feel the way they do. That's one of the reasons I love the democratic form of government that we have: So that all sides can be heard."
Anonymous, Republican, Florida State University: "I wish people understood that I'm not evil. My opinions come from a place of self-preservation, and growing up low-income has made me overprotective of my family. I want lower taxes not because I don't want Medicaid, but because I don't want my family to go hungry in order to pay them."
10. Anonymous, Republican, University of California Los Angeles: How can you be so judgmental, yet claim equality and kindness for all?
Diana Pope, Democrat, University of Tennessee at Knoxville: "Personally, I am transferring from a liberal arts college where Republicans were treated poorly in and outside of class for their political beliefs. I was disgusted with the level of political intolerance on my own college campus, and believe that Republicans and conservatives should not be threatened or treated poorly for their political leaning. However, I think that Republicans should understand that not all liberals are engaged in highly polarized discussions where they attack the other side with ad-hominem attacks. I often believe that liberal Democrats who facilitate this political dialogue are fairly uninformed about our party's message that advocates tolerance and inclusion. If you meet Democrats who work in local and state government, you'll understand that these are individuals who are earnestly working to fight income inequality, housing discrimination, racial intolerance, etc., and are willing to work with Republicans to solve real issues in American communities. It doesn't matter what political side you're on – partisan politics is partisan politics, and anyone who is far right or far left is going to be judgmental and unaware of their party's true message."
Although some beliefs are solid, it's important to take the time to listen to others. Politics aren't people; we can't just block them out of our lives because they don't fit our needs. Every person in office represents someone and every policy made affects somebody.
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