In an op-ed from The Detroit Free Press entitled “Election will be meaningless if we don’t change our ways,” author Mitch Albom commented on the election, and it inspired me to think critically of candidates’ messaging in this election. This election has brought out the absolute worst in people supporting either of the major parties. As an independent, I have noticed people across the political spectrum demonstrating absolutely unacceptable, callous and vicious behavior. It doesn’t matter who wins the election if we don’t change our ways.
As a university student, I feel like I am unable to share or express my opinions on any particular subject without getting terrorized — yes, I said terrorized — by people, fellow students and professors alike, who don’t agree with me.
One time in class, I said that I didn’t think it was right to force a woman to carry a child that she doesn’t want. A fellow student immediately labeled me as a “baby killer” with “questionable morals” instead of listening to what I had to say. On several occasions, I pretended to disagree with my views to please a professor in order to get a good grade in the class because if I actually spoke my mind and expressed my thoughts, I felt I would be harshly penalized.
It seems that any room for a healthy debate of ideas is now nonexistent and is instead met with anger and hostility. This is a real problem, and I know that I’m not the only one. In a country where freedom of speech is so widely prized, this shouldn’t be happening.
This name-calling happens at the national level, with politicians like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi calling President Donald Trump “morbidly obese” and a kid with “doggy doo on his shoes” and Sen. Chuck Schumer threatening Supreme Court Justices saying that they “won’t know what hit them.” The worst of people appeared when individuals wished death on Trump as he was infected with COVID-19. On the flip side, the president has treated opposing parties in a similar manner. He mocked one reporter’s disability when he was challenged. Trump also regularly refers to the media as a bunch of liars and labels reporting as “fake news” whenever it says something unflattering about him despite it being true.
I have also heard people use expletives referring to Joe Biden and Trump and have seen videos of people urinating on and destroying candidate signs of the opposite party.
Hate does not foster respect and reverence; hate breeds contempt and disdain. There is no decency left in the world when we conduct ourselves malevolently and vindictively. People have been so afraid of violence when someone wins the election that stores in New York City, Washington, D.C. and upscale areas in California boarded up their stores to prevent property from being stolen and destroyed. Is this what we have become? A bunch of angry children who throw an ugly tantrum when we don’t get our way?
Regardless of which party you belong to or with which you identify, if anything that comes out of your mouth that is vulgar, threatening or downright foul about a party, politician or its supporters, I suggest thinking twice. This substandard conduct isn’t helping anyone.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but the political debate in America should not be a shouting match of disrespectful, character-based insults. This includes blatantly naming and grouping people together based on political views without any consideration to who they are as people. In the end, it is we who decide the fate of this country, and that starts with our attitudes and behavior towards each other.
Helen Claire McNulty is a senior biology major from Holland, Mich., and West Palm Beach, Fla.