One of the biggest obstacles to understanding those of other political persuasions are the symbols they use. Don’t get confused!
To some people, the confederate flag stands for slavery, racism, and oppression. To others, it stands for patriotic love of the place they live in and the people they live near, remembering the historical traditions that bind the generations, and most of all, the fight against the oppression and quasi-slavery of the north when it forced its will on the southern states on many issues and not just slavery. Don’t assume everyone that waves it is a racist, and don’t assume that everyone that wants to take it down hates freedom.
To some people, the American flag stands for all Americans and burning it is something akin to treason. To others, people and land come with no flags attached and it represents only the formal government institutions they wish to protest. Don’t assume that all flag-burners hate America, and don’t assume that those who wave it agree with everything that America has ever done.
To some people, the term “Happy Holidays” is a quick way of saying “Happy Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, and New Year!” It refers to multiple holidays that take place in a relatively short period of time. To others, it is a way of avoiding mentioning Christ, and therefore a way of expressing anti-Christian sentiment. Don’t assume everyone who says “Happy Holidays” is trying to convert you to atheism, and don’t assume that everyone who says “Merry Christmas” is trying to convert you to Christianity.
To some people, writing “X-mas” is a shorter way to write Christmas that is very helpful when filling out hundreds of cards. To others, it is yet another way to avoid mentioning Christ. Don’t make assumptions!
It amazes me that statements never considered controversial before can trigger tantrums in people once someone they don’t like has started using it. “Make America Great Again” is a statement that everyone should be able to agree with, but wear this phrase on a red hat and you just might be physically attacked. Likewise, “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter” should be among the least controversial statements ever made in history, yet now they are some of the most controversial.
I have noticed that most people are programmed like robots. They respond in predictable ways when hearing certain phrases, whether their response fits the context or the way you used the phrase at all. At least three times I have been in a discussion of how widespread “liberal” ideas are and mentioned that a Democrat (either Al Gore or Hillary Clinton) had won the popular vote, only losing the election because of the way the voters are geographically distributed in the Electoral College. I had obviously brought up the vote only to support the idea that “liberalism” is very popular. All three times, my conversation partner interrupted me with a lecture on how we do not elect presidents by popular vote, even making inane statements such as, “There’s no such thing as the popular vote!”
When interpreting someone’s words, remember the context. Remember what they said before, what you said before, and the type of person they are. Remember the purpose of the conversation. Actually think. Don’t be a robot. Don’t be stupid.
In politics, we play with the lives of other people. Those we vote for will put in place policies that might make the difference between life and death, imprisonment and freedom, or poverty and riches. Voting without being fully informed is the worst form of negligence. Listen to as many different news sources as you have time for. Seek out contrary opinions. Check your bias. Read history. Read science. Find a trusted analyst to sift the news for you, explain it, and put it in context. Look for errors in their logic. Ask for supporting evidence. Most of all, actually think.
Logic. Love. Liberty.