Respect in the 2016 election

Practicing consideration with differing opinions

People have opinions on everything, and it’s human nature to want your opinion to be the “correct” opinion. America has just entered the beginning of an election year, and a noteworthy one to say the least. With twelve candidates polling for the Republican nomination, three for the Democratic nomination, and several others pursuing third-party and independent runs, this election season is exceptionally packed. Additionally, a record-breaking number of individuals running have never directly been involved in politics prior to their runs, including real estate mogul Donald Trump, pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson, and software developer John McAfee.

With so many candidates to choose from, not everyone will agree on the same candidate. Whether this is triggered by party affiliation, a candidate’s stance on a single issue, or any other personal reason for choosing a candidate, each voter has the inherent right to make an informed decision on who he or she is interested in voting for.

In the past few months, I have repeatedly witnessed a disturbing pattern in election-related discussions; one voter may be discussing why he or she believes his or her candidate is best suited for office, but voters expressing support for a conflicting candidate could be quickly shut down simply for holding a conflicting belief. This is not fair to those who may support candidates that are not considered “popular choices.”

I believe that it is important to remember that a voter has a reason to why he or she has chosen a particular candidate. To another, the reason(s) for their support may seem insufficient, insignificant, or just nonsensical, but to that person, they are valid. Of course, debating and discussing ideas is a great way to find common ground and learn one’s reasoning behind an opinion or decision, but attacking or belittling the person for his or her opinions should not be acceptable.

This doesn’t just apply to elections. With any point of contention, every person should have the right to hold his or her opinions without fear; this is the crux of freedom of speech. Granted, some positions are not ideal and there are reasons as to why those opinions are not ideal, but respectfully explaining why you disagree will most likely have a larger impact than intimidation.

As we progress forward to an increasingly open and accepting society, it’s important that we embrace our differences, instead of ostracizing each other. This should not solely apply to physical or emotional differences; ideological differences should be respected by one another as well.