Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: We need moderation in politics

Last Thursday the Washington Post published a column titled “Chill, America. Not every Trump outrage is outrageous” by Tom Nichols, a professor at the Naval War College. In it Nichols calmly reasons his way through overreactions to President Trump’s first several weeks in office.

He moderately explains executive orders, staffing arrangements and cabinet nominations without the hyperbole that has infected media on the left and right in 24-hour cable news cycle. For instance, Nichols explains that the hotly-debated immigration ban Trump ordered is not a ban on all Muslims as some Republicans and Democrats have said but that the ban is still not a step in the right direction.

It was a breath of fresh air, and Nichols makes a necessary point for Republicans and Democrats alike.

Left-wing sensationalist media responses to the Trump presidency have been overwhelming. To these sensationalist groups, every action is the fall of the republic, every executive order a death knell for civil rights. On the opposite side, protests against Trump have been painted as whiney privileged gatherings or violent and raucous breakdowns of civil peace.

In the reality that lies between the two extremes of sensationalist news and our Facebook feed is a much saner United States that often gets excluded from the conversation. Calm debate and reasonable disagreement do not produce the ratings that controversy does and politely stating your position on social media does not get retweets and shares.

Therefore, what the average American often sees is the worst of the worst on both sides of the aisle. We are shown the right-wing extremists spouting obvious falsehoods and left-wing social justice warriors crying at a position they disagree with slightly. Neither of these caricatures matches up with the reality and diversity of political opinions in this country.

The danger arrives when these images and models are the only ones presented, and social media users start to believe these are the only options available. Like Nichols, when presented with news we disagree with, especially content presented in hyperbolic style, we should take a step back and check if the facts match up with the outrage the clickbait headline is intended to create.

Injecting moderation in the debate can only help the process. Understanding the facts, seeing what your opponents care about, realizing how they see the issue and finally coming to terms with what is actually at stake in the underlying debate make your argument stronger for both your allies and to those who disagree with you.

No matter the rhetoric, political partisans have to come together to work and solve problems. This is true in Washington, D.C., this is true in Indianapolis, and it is true at IU.

Take a step back from the wild videos on Facebook and the breathless commentary on CNN. Go back and find the facts, talk to someone you disagree with to see how they understand the situation, and next time you see something designed to make you outraged, you will smile, lean back and chill out. 

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