By Ben Higgins
I hadn’t fully contemplated the implications of the midterm elections before I accepted an invitation to speak at Politicon (think Comic-Con for political junkies) last month.
One of the annual convention’s goals is for people from both sides to listen to each other. This wasn’t accomplished when I watched Kathy Griffin yelling to jail the president — I stayed for less than five minutes — or when conservatives spotted Michael Avenatti and started shouting in his face.
We need to calm down just a bit. I’ve heard we’re living through the most divisive time in American history. It is divisive, I agree. However, this is not the first time we’ve experienced severe division (I’m thinking of the Civil War and the Vietnam era). I won’t minimize today’s political landscape, but the sensationalizing needs to stop.
Empathize, don’t sensationalize
At Politicon, one group ran a booth called The Empathy Tent, which they bring to contentious rallies and conferences. The group listens to all sides and promotes constructive conversations; they hope to help people de-escalate and work together toward positive solutions.
The Empathy Tent was encouraging to see at Politicon. It’s not easy for me to understand what others believe when it’s different than my own beliefs. (I try to do this by listening to others and asking strong follow-up questions.) In the end, I think there are two ways to benefit from political conversations: First, by learning something new from people who think similarly. Second, by trying to understand the other side better. Both are crucial.
How to respond
Go vote! I do not want my grandkids to ask me who I voted for in 2018 and have to tell them I got stuck in a long line at Starbucks. Mail in your ballot or take the time tomorrow (Tuesday, November 6) to have your voice heard at the ballot box.
My prediction: The Democrats take the House of Representatives back, the Republicans narrowly hold the Senate, and President Trump will work more with Democrats than people expect because he cares about ‘winning.’
P.S. If you vote, post it on Instagram and tag us at @Mahogonyworkplacecreative. We would love to repost your photo!
Photo by Josh Johnson