Anyone who’s spent any time following political posts on social media will know just how little time people actually spend listening to each other. Most comments are statements of position. Many simply repeat political dogma whether from the left or the right. Worse, is the mud-slinging. Calls of libtards, repugnicans (I admit to having used this myself and have vowed to stop), snowflakes litter social media.
If the only place we saw this was on the comments section that would be bad enough. Unfortunately, our entire political system has become highly polarized.
This is one of the symptoms of the First-Past-the-Post electoral system. Only one team can win the horse race. The stakes are high, and when you can win 100% power with 43% of the votes, it becomes easy, necessary in-fact, to tear down your opponent. And in doing so, you polarize your followers.
A government should not be a place of 100% power for a given clique. It should be a place of debate. We would build better solutions if our governments were places of negotiation and consensus-building. So this trend toward more polarization in politics is disturbing on a number of levels. It puts too much power in too few hands and it creates see-sawing public policy which is expensive and disruptive.
It can seem like this is all doom and gloom, particularly in light of the current American administration. We Canadians shouldn’t be too self-congratulatory though. As things go in the US culturally, they tend to go here too. There is no doubt that we have a fair degree of left/right polarization in our public discourse and that it is growing.
So it is exciting to see some people recognizing these problem and taking action to mitigate the harmful effects. A group of concerned people in the US have found a fun and creative way to help people in that act of listening to each other.
They’ve started an event called “Make America Dinner Again”. The idea is to throw a dinner party. Invite people with different political tastes. Let them meet, talk, listen, and learn.
It is a beautiful idea. Protests and public action are valuable. Writing letters and signing petitions can help. Getting involved in a political party is a positive process. Sitting down to have dinner together may be delightful.