By Chloe Longstreet:
Donald Trump has ascended to the highest political office in America. He is now our commander-in-chief, our top dog, our President. Some looked on in horror as he was inaugurated; others cheered. Regardless of what side you are on, however, I believe most of us can agree that the recent election has brought to light exactly how deep the divide is between political parties in our nation. It is our responsibility as citizens to work to repair that divide if we ever want to see this country get back on its feet again.
Due to polio, Franklin D. Roosevelt was partially disabled when he was President of the United States, and he had to wear braces on his legs in order to walk. When he gave a speech, however, attendees waited respectfully until he was squarely behind the podium before taking pictures in order to ensure his presidential dignity remained intact. Respect for the office took precedence over political beliefs.
That sense of respect has completely disappeared today. Now, videographers comb through footage of speeches frame by frame, gleefully hoping to come across the most unflattering images of politicians and their supporters that they can. The worse the shot, the better it will do in the media. During this last election cycle, we were bombarded with images of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump looking crazy, possessed, or demonic.
It isn’t just the imagery that is deepening the divide in this country, though. The rhetoric accompanying these photos has left me deeply saddened and filled with a sense of dread over the direction of our country. We are no longer one nation united; rather, we are currently at war with one another.
We are utilizing strategies of war against each other in the media, and we need to stop. The use of rhetoric and media tactics to dehumanize the enemy has long served to make it easier to fight other human beings in wartime, but these forces have now crossed over into the national dialogue. They are poisoning our country.
Our politicians are human beings, worthy of our respect and deserving civility for the sacrifice they have made to serve our country. Just because we don’t agree doesn’t mean that the points made by the other side are strictly invalid. We all want what we believe is best for this country. Let’s start trying to work together and act like it.
So, what can you do? Stop sharing unflattering things. If we choose not to respond to the disrespect, the media will stop utilizing it as a strategy. Don’t share the news article with the picture that shows its subject in the worst light possible, even if it makes a valid point. Don’t use negative terminology to describe people who disagree with you. Ask yourself if something would offend you if it was written about someone you care about before sharing it. If the answer is yes, don’t share it. Be like the reporters who waited for FDR to get behind the podium and help bring respect back into our political discourse again.
Chloe Longstreet is an OpsLens Contributing Editor. She graduated from Columbia University in 2012 with a BA in Political Science and Anthropology. Since then she has worked as a writer and an editor spanning a wide variety of topics. Her recent projects include working as a ghostwriter for a political memoir, and launching her company, Awen Books and More.