To bridge the divide between Democrats and Republicans, members of both parties need to criticize their own candidates and parties when they are at fault and acknowledge the successes of opposition candidates and parties when they do the right thing.
Pipe dream? Maybe. But hear us out.
If you think your candidate or party can do no wrong, you are either not being honest or not paying attention.
Most of us have beliefs more complex than Democrat or Republican, or areas where we differ from our party of choice — if we have one. Many of us decline to align with either party. Maine has more unenrolled voters — often referred to as independents — than either Democrats or Republicans.
And yet we rarely hear any view more complex than “Democrats bad, Republicans good” or “Republicans bad, Democrats good.”
Rather than defend candidates when they make false or offensive statements, their supporters should call them to account.
When we bury our heads in the sand and dismiss any negative information about a candidate or defend a candidate no matter what, we lose credibility with those elsewhere on the political spectrum.
If, instead, we say, “Candidate X was wrong to say Y because Z, but I still support Candidate X because A,” we might have some meaningful dialogue. Why? Because we’re being honest. Because we’re accepting facts. Because we’re acknowledging the complexity of issues rather than chanting mindless slogans.
So, please, give it a try. Write a letter to the editor or a social media post or bring it up when you talk politics with friends or co-workers.
Say something you disagree with your candidate or party on, something you agree with or respect about the opposition party, then explain why you still support your candidate or party. See where the conversation goes.
We still have common ground. Our community and our country are full of good people, Democrats and Republicans, yet many of us can barely tolerate each other due to the toxic nature of our current politics — and that’s going to get worse before it gets better.
It is up to each individual to bridge the divide. Take a small step.