Politically diverse home fosters political empathy, perspective

Each+night%2C+my+family+and+I+alternate+which+news+platform+we+watch+to+gain+insight+into+the+world+around+us+-+through+this+practice%2C+I+have+learned+to+be+open+minded+and+respectful+of+others%E2%80%99+political+views+as+well+as+strengthening+the+basis+of+my+own.+

Hannah Conn '23

Each night, my family and I alternate which news platform we watch to gain insight into the world around us – through this practice, I have learned to be open minded and respectful of others’ political views as well as strengthening the basis of my own.

Is it a CNN or Fox News night tonight? Once we finish battling over Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune over an amazing meal, and the dishes are all clean, my family normally retires to the family room to watch some form of news. However, the challenge for us arises in which platform by which we get our information that night. My family is diverse in many ways: our hair colors, our movie nominations on movie nights, our pizza topping preferences but most of all, we find ourselves a divided house regarding our political opinions. 

In many ways, such division has caused issues for us as a family. Watching both the 2016 and 2020 presidential debates, elections and the most recent Supreme Court nomination hearings have left the mood stale on our best nights and hostile on our worst. But, despite this division, I have found myself incredibly grateful to have a parent and sibling on each side of the political scale. It has opened my eyes to be equally curious and understanding of the different political views in America, allowing my own political perspective to grow naturally and fully with influence from both sides of the aisle. 

I remember, one night, taking an online quiz with my family that my Advanced Placement Government and Politics teacher had provided for my class. Through a series of reading questions and rating how much we approved or denied of the statement, my family was rewarded with our “Political Compass Test” results. This test is accurate in determining where you land on a scale from Liberal to Conservative on the X-axis and Authoritarian to Libretarian on the Y-axis. It was no surprise to us where we landed – it had placed me and my family exactly where we belonged. 

In such a politically divided time, I have learned to value my family’s diversity because it has provided me with an incredible sense of perspective on the world around me.”

— Hannah Conn '23

In such a politically divided time, I have learned to value my family’s diversity because it has provided me with an incredible sense of perspective on the world around me. I recognize that my political nature is very evenly balanced between the humanitarianism of the Democratic party and the economic goals of the Republican party. I contribute this evenness to primarily being exposed to news screenings, podcasts and articles from both Republican and Democrat identifying news outlets and to individual conversations with my parents and siblings on our experiences and views. 

More than just providing me with my political opinion, being exposed to both sides of political conversations has enabled me to become an extremely open-minded and understanding person. I have learned not to judge people by the labels placed on them by society. No, not all Conservatives are evil, and no, not all Liberals are socialists – though I know that it can be a hard pill to swallow. One of my favorite pastimes is to sit down with someone, learn about their lives and how that has impacted the overall growth of their political views. With just a simple conversation, you can find yourself immensely more able-minded politically, as you are now taking into account the opposing viewpoint when considering your own.  

In actuality, that process is something I truly recommend that everyone does. Regarding the political divide in our society, I feel that if we really tried to understand each other and bridged the gap with humanitarian empathy, rather than just spitting vitriol at the opposing position, we could progress easily into the future as a connected society. 

Further than just this, I have found it to be personally beneficial to read and listen to news from many different sources as it has broadened my perspective of the world around me and, thus, contributed back to the overall growth of my own character. 

And though it is a CNN night tonight – I know I will be watching FoxNews tomorrow night, rallying for the terse conversations between family members and ready, once again, for an eye opening conversation that will hopefully end peacefully and without the loss of limbs.