Opt to oppose opinions, not people

Rio Popper, Online Editor

We can be forgiven for ignoring the meaning of the word democrat without the capitalized ‘D’ and the word republican without the capitalized ‘R’. Most of us studied the lower-case words in our eighth-grade history classes and promptly forgot them. These words, as infrequently spoken as they are, compose the heart of the political ideals of this country and of revolutions around the globe and throughout history. Unlike their familiar, capitalized cousins, they are universal.

Lower-case republicans and lower-case democrats are similar: both support a representative government—the only difference is that republicans also believe that there should, regardless of the majority’s wishes, be some protections for minorities. Both modern-day parties are based on these lower-case ideals: the Democratic Party’s current platform states that they support the idea that we are greater together than we are on our own; the Republican Party’s current goal is to make America a place where everyone can achieve the American Dream.

Despite seemingly good intentions from both sides, people are scared. Republicans fear the loss of their right to bear arms; Democrats fear the loss of reproductive rights. Republicans fear a lack of military security; Democrats fear a military state. The two parties diverge on many things—fear is not one of them.
In this climate, it is no wonder that the parties vilify each other. To many Democrats, the word ‘Republican’ is merely a euphemism for bigotry, racism and sexism. To many Republicans, the word ‘Democrat’ is synonymous with elitism, depravity and impracticality.

This political vilification permeates Sequoia. As a school, we embrace diversity in nationality, ethnicity and gender; embracing that diversity is what makes Sequoia what it is.

In contrast, we—students and teachers both—flinch away from political diversity. When Republicans, Libertarians or moderate liberals speak out, their opinions are automatically dismissed. this is a problem, and it needs to be viewed as such. Students and teachers need to allow for political diversity so that we can learn to understand our differences.

Up and down the lattice of our political system, the norm is polarization and judgment. As the upcoming generation, as the future of this country and as the future of this world, it is our job to move past this era of fear and vilification and into an era of ‘disagreement with understanding.’

We can only do this if we view people as people. We must see one another not as mere conservatives or liberals, but as friends, classmates and fellow citizens of the world. At Sequoia, we must start to do this in our history classes, our lunchtime debates and our slightly off-topic discussions over math homework. You, my friend, your friend and I: we are bigger than politics.