Hursh Karkhanis is a freshman finance major.
It’s widely known that President Trump is greatly disliked by those on the left. Liberals across the nation, as well as Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have expressed concern over Trump’s policy proposals, rhetoric and overall demeanor. Pushback from opposition is common after a divisive election – after all, it was former President Barack Obama himself who stated that “It’s precisely this contest of idea that pushes our country forward.”
However, with our politics becoming more and more polarizing, it is safe to say that excessive liberal opposition is backfiring. Political activism is now more of a Twitter trend than a vehicle to drive change, and a “Bernie-or-bust” type attitude is moving moderates away, pushing them right.
The wrinkle in today’s politics is that those on certain sides of the spectrum don’t feel they can voice their opinion in fear of public ridicule. Since Trump’s victory in November, protests have taken place worldwide, speaking out against populist agendas and conservative policies. From college walk-outs after the election to global Women’s Marches after Inauguration Day, there has been plenty of outcry over the direction our national politics are going. In the process of exercising their freedom of speech, however, liberals are increasingly turning away from those on the other side, strongly touting their beliefs and not listening to those with opposing views.
This stubbornness on a national scale is leading many moderates to lean right, not because they support conservative policy, but because they disapprove of the way liberals attempt to advance their agenda. Writer Sabrina Tavernise sums up this issue perfectly in her recent New York Times op-ed. She compares post-Trump liberal opposition to a form of “moral Bolshevism — the belief that the liberal vision for the country [is] the only right one. Disagreeing [means] being publicly shamed.” If we value political diversity, there should be room for dialogue, no matter who people voted for.
Excessive anger from the left is polarizing our politics, pushing moderates to extreme ends of the spectrum and leaving little room in the middle. In her article on this very issue, Sabrina Tavernise notes that “liberals are burning bridges rather than building them” in order to garner supporters. She writes about interviews she took with different Americans observing their troubles in dating, family relations and social media, all stemming from their more-right-than-normal political beliefs. Tavernise explains a choose-a-side mentality, the idea that those on the fence must commit to a political ideology and run with it one hundred percent of the time. Violence is a factor as well. When protests turn into mini riots, it undermines the credibility that demonstrators are trying to maintain. Little by little, liberals are responding to Trump’s extreme policies by moving to extremes themselves. Instead of listening and trying to find common ground, they shut out opposing points of view completely.
How do we solve this? Two answers. We can start by voicing our opinion in ways other than protesting every weekend or sharing articles on social media. There is nothing wrong with demonstrating and speaking up, but when those actions don’t translate into letters to Congressmen, signed petitions or votes in legislative houses, we start to miss opportunities that can bring real, tangible change.
Secondly, we can take the time to listen to those who hold different views. If we shut ourselves out from the other side, what reference do we have that we are on the right path?