A Call to Civility and Increased Political Participation

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The opinion section of The Loyalist runs a staff editorial written by the opinion editors endorsing a change widely supported by both members of the staff and the student body. These editorials are not meant to be controversial or polarizing when compared to some of the other pieces in the section. With that said, this specific editorial is a call to civility and political understanding on both sides of the spectrum and is not meant to attack a particular political view or position.

Recently, a rival high school of Loyola released a podcast where some students with right-leaning views lambasted the left-wingers and the overall liberal environment of their school community. Without a countering voice to argue the points being made, the podcast turned into an echo-chamber for wild straw-men of liberal positions and views. Conversely, comedian Jimmy Kimmel’s saying that he “wouldn’t want to have a conversation” with his viewers who disagree with his relatively liberal opinions on gun control and health-care reform also perpetuates the political intolerance of an opposing view. These instances of a lack of understanding between the two sides are a part of a concerning trend of political polarization in this country.

The American citizen has seemingly grown more partisan in this last election cycle. According to Pew Research, 81% of Democrats approved of President Obama’s performance in office, contrasted with 14% of Republicans approval rating of the former president across his eight-year term. With the election of President Donald J. Trump, many people on both sides of the political divide in this country have either clinged to or protested against the President and his policies. Such polarization neglects the majority of moderate or non-partisan Americans and breeds the attitudes and ignorance which lead to a divisive podcast from a high school newspaper or an idiotic comment from a famous comedian.

In this divisive political atmosphere, there are obvious measures to receive unbiased coverage of news and events. However, in the context of Loyola’s diverse community of different races, sexual orientations, and political affiliations, the best way to combat this continuity of unhealthy political rhetoric is through striving for bipartisanship and fostering understanding.

Mahatma Gandhi once encouraged his supporters to “be the change you wish to see in the world,” and this wisdom has been echoed by Loyola High School’s administration in past years with the 2014 First-Year Retreat. In this political climate, Loyola students can truly be agents of change through creating an atmosphere of healthy civil discourse, accomplished through actions such as simply talking about events and issues in a variety of forums: classrooms, clubs, and even publications.

The sign of a healthy civil society is political efficacy, and by encouraging a sense of diversity in every sense through political understanding, we as the Loyola community can avoid the echo-chamber of regurgitated talking points centered around a single political affiliation. Obviously, the administration has combatted this growing divisiveness through incorporating the Office of Equity and Inclusion, which has begun putting on events bringing together students of different backgrounds and perspective to speak on their experiences––such as their October 6 event focusing on race and gender.

However, to truly create an environment where every voice of every ace, sexual orientation, or political leaning, is heard, the Loyola community must promote a medium through which such dialogues can occur, because, with so many backgrounds and perspectives along with a sense of civility, the student body, faculty, and staff at Loyola can truly achieve the diversity of thought in an environment which promotes any and all views.

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