Take a step outside your political bubble

Progressives must understand our own ignorance

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(Will Katcher/ Daily Collegian)

By Shona McMorrow, Collegian Columnist

It is primary season and I find myself surrounded by politics every day. From news updates, to discussions to overheard conversations, it is something I cannot escape. While I try to stay on top of all of the election updates, I do have to acknowledge my own biases that exist: I hear arguments mainly from people who have the same opinions as I do, my social media is curated by myself and I live on a campus with people mostly ages 18 to 22. I am essentially isolated from the average life of any given American. It is because of these biases that I think us university-attending progressives need to take a step back and reevaluate how we are approaching this election.

There was a time that I, like many of my peers, held my views to be so righteous, that I did not want to engage with those that disagreed with me. Their opinions were so far from my own that I decided to brush them off as ignorant. I’m not talking about devout Trump voters, who I still believe are not worth that time, as I really do not see us ever reaching common ground, and whose positions I disagree with morally. I’m talking about moderate Democrats: campaigns that are not ensuring Medicare for all, addresing the existential threat of climate change or fighting for criminal justice reform.

I now recognize this superiority I felt over others. I thought that people must agree with me because these are such important plans, and anyone who didn’t simply did not care about other people. After the results of Super Tuesday came in –  a day where I was sure progressives were going to come out strong –  I saw Biden’s support skyrocket, and I understood that not every American, in fact, most Americans likely do not agree with my “radical” ideas. If so many Americans are going to rally in support of a moderate candidate, there must be a reason a bit more complex than simply ignorance. At the same time however, these issues and ideas I firmly believe in are ones that I am not willing to compromise on, and I found myself puzzled by what to do.

My frustration was not just toward those who had voted for Biden, but toward my progressive peers criticizing a candidate like Warren, a fellow progressive, rather than addressing the immense support Biden received. What was even more frustrating was that upon speaking with others and reading articles about Super Tuesday, many were surprised that Biden had done so well. But his success is not surprising when you look at his supporters, and when you take into account the voting patterns of the people who back each candidate.

When I think about the moderate Democrat, I think about members of my family, specifically my dad, a man who has spent an immense amount of time studying history and is well versed when it comes to politics. I could, and I have, brushed his opinions aside deciding that he is not liberal enough that gets me nowhere. If I want to contribute to the progressive movement, I need to talk to people like my dad, a person who exists outside of this college bubble. He may be a moderate Democrat, but he is a reasonable person and is always up for a debate. I know that a respectful and meaningful conversation might be enough to sway him. I hypothesize that a lot of moderate Democrats are similar – maybe I’m wrong, but we won’t know until we try.

The point I am making is not that the passion you feel for this movement is wrong, or that you need to make compromises, but we need to understand the bigger picture. A moderate may look at us and see young privileged kids lecturing them about politics. We are so easy to brush aside because we demand to be heard but we do so in a way that doesn’t account for another person’s thoughts and experiences. We just look like complainers. I know we are not, and I know people are making false assumptions about us, but how can we be taken seriously when we refuse to listen, when people our age don’t vote and when we see all this and still don’t do anything about it. We look ignorant. It is time we change our outlook and prove them wrong, because this movement is essential, and it is bigger than all of us.

Shona McMorrow is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]