Although I’m sure most people know by now, the 2012 elections were held last week and President Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term. And for myself and many others, it was my first time voting and getting actively involved in the election process.
This event represents many different things to different people. Some were upset and took their anger out on Facebook and Twitter, while others rejoiced and also expressed themselves on numerous social media sites.
This is great. In fact, nothing makes me happier than when people, especially young, educated students, such as myself, engage in heated political debates.
However, I noticed (maybe because this is my first year being able to vote, and therefore I am much more aware of political discussions) that a majority of the discussion between people on these social media websites was quite vicious and mean.
For example, I noticed that throughout election day many people were posting who they wanted to win and why, and others would comment back with cruel put-downs, one of which led to 47 plus comments of nasty name-calling and arguing, leading nowhere.
While I support debates and discussions between people, I definitely do not support such hurtful and illogical bickering.
Debates and discussions need to stay civil between everyone, regardless of differing and contrasting views. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and has the right to voice them and be heard. No one has the right to tell someone what they believe is wrong.
Through proper debate, ideas are shared and views are understood. It is discussions between people with differing views that I feel lead to the most engaging and meaningful debates—which often end with both sides walking away having learned something.
My first experience voting and being involved with elections has led me to embrace intellectual debates and discussions.
At the same time, this experience also has taught me to become more open-minded and aware of others’ opinions and beliefs, something I believe every citizen needs to be.
While both Gov. Mitt Romney and President Obama gave excellent speeches after the re-election of President Obama was announced, President Obama’s speech inspired me more than anything I had heard throughout both of their entire campaigns.
President Obama said, “As citizens, we understand that America is not what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government.”
Through compromise, hard work and understanding of one another, Americans will accomplish everything we want and more. The first step is simply listening.
Samantha Sigler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.