Political Discussion and Climate in America

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By: Heather Spataro

With politics becoming a hot discussion topic for many Americans, there has been a rise in strong opinions about how the political climate has changed.

Many adult Americans believe that political debates have made a turn for the worse as copious amounts of adults have a strong distaste for how politics are communicated today.

A poll conducted by Pew Research Center in 2019 showed that 85% of Americans believe that political debates have become more negative. Most Americans also believe that they have become less respectful, fact-based, and substantial. 

“There are some people who think everything is a win-lose debate and will prompt you for a fight instead of a discussion,” said Abigail Liles, a senior majoring in simulation and game design.  “You have an opinion and they start pulling unsourced statistics out of nowhere like you’ve challenged them to a duel.” 

Many would agree with Liles about the frustration and fights political conversations have invoked. Politics have caused drastic discourse between families and friends which have even led people to cut all ties.

According to NPR, a man named Shama Davis cut ties with a friend he has had for 25 years because of political differences. Ricardo Deforest also cut all communication and disowned his cousin because of politics. 

With such drastic consequences for out of hand political discussion, many American have opted to stay out of them all together, with some even stating they don’t feel like they can speak their opinions. 

Pew Research Center shows that almost half of U.S. adults (45%) have stopped talking politics with someone due to something that was stated to them. If no one feels comfortable having thoughtful conversations about issues in America, how will things be addressed?

Roger Brooks, CEO of the educational non-profit Facing History & Ourselves, claims that political discussions have gotten better due to working online. According to CNBC, Brooks reports that people become more intentional in their conversations and have a chance to center themselves before talking to a coworker. 

While it seems many people don’t want to voice their opinions or concerns about politics, it is the only way to be heard.

“I feel comfortable to share my political beliefs with family, friends, or strangers because I feel like my race as a whole is a political theme so I want to definitely state how I feel and stand up for what I believe in,” said Jasmine Wilkins, a senior majoring in simulation and game design.  

Wilkins, like many others, feels that it is important to share how political events make one feel. It seems now more than ever important social events are kicking off which could contribute to the more confrontational atmosphere of politics.

85% of Americans deem political discussion to be more negative, and many individuals seem to end long relationships due to political differences. Yet, some believe that working from home has actually improved chats around politics and let thought provoking discussions happen.