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Commentary: An argument for understanding

Photo by Mackenzie Swenson | Staff Photographer

Recently, I wrote an article for the Times-Delphic on the Trump rally that was held at the Iowa State Fairgrounds here in Des Moines. Whether you saw it or not, I want to share some subjective observations and thoughts I had during the rally. I hope that I might push you to think deeper about how you and I think about those with whom we disagree with. I believe that transparency is the best policy, so since this is a political commentary, you should know where I come from ideologically. I’m an economic progressive and moderate social conservative and I would have voted for Kanye last year, if that tells you anything. As with any subjective observations on groups of people, I will undoubtedly generalize too much, so forgive me if I offend you. Also, it may seem like I’m supporting one side over another, but my argument is simply to humanize and understand the other side regardless of whether they reciprocate, because everyone has their reasons for their beliefs, convincing or not.

The most significant observation I had at the rally was that Trump supporters see the former president as the only possible catalyst for positive change, similar to how those towards the left see President Biden and Democratic party victories as the only way forward. An attendee named Crystal Beckler from Crawfordsville, IA told me that “Obama campaigned on hope and change and there was no hope and change. Obama lied. In Trump’s first inauguration speech, he said what he was going to do and he did it.” She had voted for Obama twice, then switched to primary and voted for Trump.

In her and others’ minds, why would Biden, Obama’s vice president, be any more of a changemaker than his Democratic predecessor? A simple change in administration does not solve broken promises. In their minds, staying with Trump is a safer bet than returning to what was occurring previously. The central issue here is that Americans on all sides simply want change to the political and economic system currently in place. Economically, both sides agree in desiring affordable healthcare, education, and living expenses. The differences lie in who or what is causing or sustaining these problems and what the solutions are. We fight like elementary school children instead of adults on issues that require mature problem-solving skills. Everyone is complicit in this because we have lost a necessary part of our national culture, our ability to interact peacefully with those who believe differently from us.

Culture is something that is created or destroyed by everyone, not just small subsets of the population. The solution to this problem is a national revival of understanding and patience from everyone, everywhere. This means that we need to put our prejudices aside, no matter our beliefs, and try to regularly have difficult conversations that might make our hearts burn in anger but in the process produce in us more compassion for others, which is so essential for a functioning democracy and republic. America may not be at its brightest point presently, but you and I can make it brighter.

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