Opinion: This election, change the status quo

Posted on Feb 5 2018 - 7:54am by Daniel Payne

You, like many, may be tired of political campaigns and elections. Most Americans still feel like they need a few years of rest before the next round of political drama.

But it’s 2018, and that means it’s time for the midterm elections. Primaries will begin in March for the general elections in November.

You can expect this round of elections to be heated, with plenty of name-calling, debating and tweeting. This has become the status quo of political campaigns, and it’s what makes them almost unbearable. Stereotypes, empty promises and blatant lies are the new normal because these strategies work for politicians.

Politicians know that voters are more likely to vote with their emotions than their reasoning. The pathos-centered approach brings out the most passion in the most people for a campaign.

These emotional appeals are often brought up in dualistic frameworks; things can only be one way or another, but never both at the same time. For instance, politicians play to the expectation that you either believe black lives matter or blue lives matter. You can either be against all gun control measures or want to take all guns out of America. You can either believe in no government interference or be a communist.

The lack of nuance in many discussions of public policy, whether from politicians or voters on social media, is patronizing. To explain complex issues as simple matters of right and wrong or black and white is to ignore reality in favor of feeling justified by being on whatever one determines to be the right side of an issue.

Though there are some issues that are clearer than others, we fall for simplistic narratives more than we should. We accept whatever comes out of a politician’s mouth or Twitter account, as long as he or she is in the right party.

As long as voters have low standards for truth or no ability to listen to those with different opinions, they will be doomed to continue the cycle of idiotic, painful elections. By simply letting our guard down when it comes to politics, we may be able to truly hear what others have to say, leading to a better sense of reality, not a more distorted one. This could lead to new ideas and movement in policy toward progress, not the stalemate we have come to expect.

Changes in democracy must begin with people who aren’t satisfied with the current state of politics. This year, as the campaigns heat up and the time comes to cast your vote, think critically about the elections instead of letting your emotions rule your ballot. Listen to others, and think for yourself instead of buying simplistic answers to complex questions.

Daniel Payne is a sophomore integrated marketing communications major from Collierville, Tennessee.