Let’s talk when politics becomes too political

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We had an interesting discussion last week in the lobby of our office. Another frog-strangling thunderstorm kept us from going home, so we waited for a break from the thunderclaps and joked about the absurdity of our political landscape.

And like most political discussions, joking quickly escalated into a heated discussion.

Our young graphic designer talked about health care. He made a passionate plea for free program to protect everyone, and he reminded us nobody pays for treatment in Brazil.

The rest of us ganged up on him. Hardened by our years and the reality of life, we told him such a plan wasn’t sustainable. As both sides made our cases, our voices became a little louder and certainly more unwavering.

Our graphic designer, Darius, is 28 years old. He still has hope for a system that’s fair and works for everyone. We all had such grand illusions when we were that young.

Society needs people like Darius who challenge us to be better. It also needs a voice from people who’ve experienced the ups and downs of life. Away from the yelling and nasty tweets, real answers can be found somewhere in the middle.

We can argue. We can agree and disagree. But to fight for the sake of fighting doesn’t solve anything, and it proves the problem with politics is it’s too political. One side pushes to get its way; the other side pushes back even harder to gain its own advantage. In the process, both sides push further away from a workable solution.

Two of the biggest hot buttons now are abortion and gun laws. First of all, this isn’t an argument for or against either issue. I’m merely showing how the conversation – and solutions – gets lost in the rhetoric.

In 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-2 in favor of Jane Roe. She argued her right to an abortion was covered by the 14th Amendment which protects a person’s right to privacy. Roe v. Wade became the law of the land, and it restricted a woman’s right to an abortion for any reason to the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy, while abortions could be performed in the second and third trimesters for health reasons.

Since then, many states created “trigger laws” that have expanded the time a woman can seek an abortion for any reason to as many as 24 weeks – or when a fetus, or unborn baby, can survive outside the womb.

Now the other side is pushing back even harder. Nine states recently changed its laws to outlaw an abortion as soon as six weeks into the pregnancy, provided the mother’s health isn’t at risk.

Roe v. Wade’s 12-week deadline has long been forgotten through all the political backbiting as both sides continue to push any hope for common ground off a cliff.

Opinions on gun rights has become prominent following a pair of deadly shootings. Activists want assault rifles banned, saying they’ve become the weapon of choice for mass killings because they can rapidly fire as many as 30 rounds from a single magazine. Others are equally-defiant to protecting their rights to own a legal firearm.

What’s lost is the real discussion about who has access to assault-style rifles, how they’re purchased and how to take them away from criminals and people with mental disabilities.

Expecting law-abiding people to give up their guns isn’t realistic. Neither is it necessary to have guns that have the capacity to fire 600 bullets in a minute.

Maybe if we have more discussion in our lobby, we can find solutions. Between Darius’ well-placed, yet naïve, enthusiasm for good, and our years of experience that’s left us too-hardened by reality, we can start to close the divide.

At least, we’re having our discussion. Others should follow.

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