Everything nowadays seems polarized on a political level. Democratic and Republican politicians conveniently have the exact opposite views on nearly every topic. Media and political figures are pushing division down our throats, and it’s working.
Recent polls indicate that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that we are divided, and an even greater majority believe this division is a serious issue for the future of this country. It seems as if every day, we hear some new sentiment to how divided this country is — but it couldn’t be more wrong.
The two-party system has conditioned us to villainize the opposing side, and polarizing political figures don’t exactly help with that. I graduated from a conservative high school and transitioned to a liberal university. Through my experience, I realized that we, as society, are really not that divided on key principles. Generally, even the strongest of conservatives and liberals agree in upholding human dignity, fair treatment, individual liberties and opportunity.
With every political discussion, whether in private, on social media or even on campus, I found that nearly everyone can agree on basic principles — and even under disagreement, the positions were never as black and white as various forms of media describe them to be. More eye-opening was that political affiliation was largely irrelevant to individual positions. This begs the question: are we, as a country, actually divided, or is our perception of the "other side" simply contorted?
The nonprofit More in Common studied the perception gap, which is the difference between a person’s perceived view of what the opposing side thinks versus what the actual position is. The study found that on both sides of the political spectrum, perceptions of the other party did not align with the party members’ actual views.