Be Human: You Are More Than Your Political Party
By: Ryan Chapman, Editor-in-Chief
Over the past few weeks, I am pleased to say I have rediscovered a concept I once thought to be a bygone of today’s social climate — political discourse.
After interning for Tyler Media Company this summer, I was approached to fill in and produce and participate in an afternoon conservatively political talk show for the radio station KOKC 95.3 FM.
Though I was excited for the opportunity, I was also nervous about how as a Democrat in Oklahoma, I would be able to fit into the framework of the show. I was worried that my input would not be welcomed or that I would get hammered for any of my opinions on policy.
Co-hosting the show is OCCC Hall of Fame Inductee Chad Alexander, who served as the Oklahoma Republican Party Chair from 2001 to 2003.
But then, something incredible happened. Alexander and I sat down and talked.
We didn’t talk about politics, and we didn’t rail on each other’s political views — which are undoubtedly opposed.
We, instead, talked about football, our families and our shared connection to OCCC.
Alexander didn’t care who I voted for, and I didn’t care about how he caused Republicans to be elected in our state.
All he wanted from me was to ensure I could produce and participate in the show and help out where I could.
After just a week helping out on the show, I felt terrible for ever having any predisposed notions of how things would go.
My experience has served as a great reminder that your political views and party identity don’t have to define who you are.
Just because someone votes differently than you does not make them a bad person, or un-American.
As Alexander often tells me, all people have their own unique life experience which shape how they vote and perceive the world.
Due to this fact, everybody has their own perspective they bring to the table when voicing their opinion.
Despite Alexander’s decades’ worth of work behind the scenes in politics, he said, “Your vote counts just as much as mine does.”
Today Democrats, Republicans and even the press are painted as mortal enemies, fighting for the soul of the country.
And while the decisions being made in Oklahoma City, Washington D.C., and in capitols all across the country are no doubt important, we would all be served well to remember the people fighting across from us are people, too.
They have families, stories of their own, and at the root are trying to improve the country in one way or another.
However, right now congress doesn’t seem to be remembering that legislators are people and, instead, are in gridlock. And, the American people are not pleased.
A Gallup poll has shown that from 2009-2019, on average just 17 percent of Americans have approved of the job Congress is doing.
Last month, that same Gallup poll showed the current approval rating of Congress is 20 percent.
Obviously, the current attitude of divisive partisanship is not good enough for the American people.
Perhaps those we send to Capitol Hill would do well to learn the lessons I have over the past few weeks.
Legislators should sit down with another legislator they disagree with, and avoid talking about public policy for a while.
Get to know them.
Find out what struggles they’ve had in life, and what they like to do when they return back to their home state from session.
Not only legislators should apply this lesson, but we would all benefit by seeing people not as others but as people.
America will not be made “great again” by continuing the constant battle we fight in the press every single day.
The country will only improve by remembering that we are all Americans trying to make a difference. We may only disagree on the exact road map to get the country to that point.
We once had great collaboration in this country which led to positive differences being made in millions of lives.
It would serve both sides well to remember what it takes to achieve those goals.