Keep the political conversation alive

Nina Sitte, Contributor

Political divisiveness has been distracting from the importance of informed voting for a long time. Although the 2020 presidential election had the highest voter turnout, still only 66.8% of eligible voters cast one. This is because of reasons that range from thinking your vote doesn’t matter to not feeling represented by a particular candidate.

Voting, however, is one action that someone can take to help push forth policies they agree with. Voting, along with simply discussing politics, is a crucial part of the democratic process. But it isn’t always easy to discuss politics.

Madison College communications professor Kristy Jagiello explains, “Talking about taboo topics can be beneficial in instances where we then learn about them, or we then learn about ourselves or we learn about the person we’re talking to.”

Jagiello also suggests that managing these conversations is key.

“It’s not necessarily the presence of conflict in a relationship that causes a problem, it’s how we manage it,” she explains. “Taking a minute to think, ‘Am I understanding what this person is saying the way they intend to say it?’”

Seeing an issue from another’s perspective is a super important part of political discourse, according to Jagiello, but it is also a step often skipped.

She suggests that we can listen and wait our turn to talk, while trying to be understanding and respectful.

At the end of these difficult conversations, common grounds can be found to help solve bigger issues. This way, we can get people to reason with worldly issues and think deeper about them which is a solid step.

According to Scientific American, “One of the lines of work that holds some promise is some research showing that if you just remind everybody that Democrats and Republicans are all Americans, that can make them a little bit more open-minded.”

This is an important point. Individuals have a different tolerance for conversations about touchy political subjects and need to monitor how defensive they are, because that reaction often takes value away from potentially valuable conversations.

The easy thing to do would be to stop conversing about politics altogether. That would not be the most productive though.

Once we get past the point of pointing fingers, these conversations become easier, Jagiello says.