Politics and Perceptions
It happened a few weeks ago that I tuned into the radio after the start of a report on education. I found myself agreeing with what I was hearing as the tone was supportive of free or near free college, spoke of increased and equitable access and of education being a worthy investment for our collective success in the future as well as the USA being very behind many other countries, on and on.
But I felt wrong nodding along with the program because I thought the politician being interviewed and discussed was a republican. All I could think was maybe I was misunderstanding the point of the report, maybe all that the statements were not really good, even though I was right there with him on the ideals. Maybe the last few statements were going to say something horrific, either showing that I was intentionally duped or illustrating a fundamental lack of connection on his part by claiming he would give this free education only to students who learn to carry guns and…I don’t know, kill women’s desires to work outside the home.
It turned out the subject politician in that report was a democrat and I turned into my driveway and shut off our EV feeling justified, and with a great sense of “all is right with the world”. Yeah, label me now. I agree with you. But tell me you don’t judge the content of a report or article once you hear “republican” or “democrat”.
Danger, Will Robinson, danger. I take from this that I am way too focused on the labels society puts onto people, and not enough focused on the substance of the discussions at hand. And I am pretty-darn sure I am not alone.
I know that I alter my own responses based on if the reporter says “Ms. So and so, a Republican, says…” or if I hear that the Representative or Mayor or Governor is a Democrat. And this compels me to ask how my response would change if I did not know their political affiliation but had to rely on what they were saying or doing; their responses to the questions, their planned legislative approaches, or what rally they were speaking at.
What if my thoughts were not arbitrarily biased by labels of party affiliation?
I would like to see and hear all reporters scrub party labels from their reporting, unless there is a direct need for this information regarding a vote, for example. Yes, there will be many people who already know who is in which party, but there will be many who don’t, and therefore many who may start listening and learning instead of dismissing those who speak who are of the party that is “them” not “us”. And maybe the great divide that exists may not always be so great as those labels make out. I suspect I will hear some republicans (being “them” in my case) who speak sense, know their constituents’ needs and understand the importance of the world arena. I suspect I will hear some democrats (being “us” in my case) say dumb, shortsighted and misinformed things.
Furthermore, I suspect I would not hear those things as clearly if I knew, at the start of the report, what party affiliation that person holds.
Seek an unbiased process,