Clara N. California

Please, just listen to each other.

There's an automatic barrier that stands between political parties, and it ultimately hinders us from having the crucial conversations that matter for our collective future.

Dear Madam/Mr. President, 

It's truly shocking how publicly and politically divided we are as a country. We see people who hold different political values from us as our "opponents," when in fact, they should be considered team mates. At the end of the day, we all want what is best for the country-- we just have different ideas of how to get there. 

There's an automatic barrier that stands between political parties, and it ultimately hinders us from having the crucial conversations that matter for our collective future. It is not just in Washington where party lines and political differences prevent us from moving towards a truly prosperous society.

Even at our nation's most prestigious schools, in the current media, and circulating public thought are one sided mindsets and prejudiced thinking that seek to villainize and delegitimize those who hold differing political beliefs. This toxic environment leads to a polarized political (and intellectual) scene and society as a whole. I, myself, am guilty of patronizing people who don't hold my political beliefs. 

Each article featured in the Huffington Post about Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, concludes with an editor’s note that reads, “Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, and birther." We're not going to listen to each other if one candidate is branded as an inciter of "political violence" in every single article-- this is definitely not encouraging diverse political thought. Yet, on the other side of the aisle, the message of "Hillary [Clinton]'s America" is subject to the same kind of derogatory rhetoric, claiming that “[Hillary] is ruthless, she is grasping, and she appears to have little empathy and concern..she is old and mean and even her laugh is a witch’s cackle.” 

I'd like to come out and say this-- I identify strongly as liberal, and I wouldn't want to be considered anything else. However, I am not asking you to compromise your own beliefs and turn to "my side." I'm also not asking for the destruction of our two party system-- I think it is crucial for the state of our country to have diversity of thought. 

However, as a young person in America, I'm frustrated that nothing can get done in congress and I believe it is due to the political divide that plagues our nation. I'm saying that we could all be better people if we put down our guards, just for a second, to listen to what the "other side" has to say. 

This summer, my friend Joseph and I found ourselves in the midst of a heated political debate about such difficult subjects such as abortion, healthcare and taxation. Joseph exemplified the conservative mindset while I defended the liberal view. After an hour of intense back and forth debate, we shifted our mindsets and decided to make an attempt to see these issues from another perspective. We were surprised that by actually letting down our guard, and listening to each other without trying to defend our own political beliefs, we were able to stop the divisive rhetoric and begin to understand each other’s point of view without compromising our own values. 

Now, Madam/Mr. President, I expect that you will exemplify the highest level of sportsmanship for our country. This includes putting down your protective, one sided barriers in order to listen to what the other side has to say. Even more, I hope that by emulating this type of problem solving, productive conversation, you will encourage it among our nation's young people. 

This divide is not sustainable. We need gun reform. We need health care. We need to prevent climate change. We need civil rights. We need you to build the bridge between left and right, conservative and liberal, and insider and outsider, so we can begin to take down our divisive barriers. The power is in your hands, Madam/Mr. President.   

With all due respect, 

Clara Nevins

Marlborough School

AP World History Period H

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