The country is clearly divided: Trumpers and Trump haters. Our split opinions have caused fighting, divorces, and falling outs with families.
Bravo’s Welcome to Waverly takes seven people from different races, religions, and sexual and gender orientations and plops them down in small town Waverly, Kansas, where old-school thought still rules, 99 percent of the residents are white, and nearly all identify as heterosexual. On the show, a 24-year-old Muslim politician, a cosmetologist who identifies as gay and Republican, an African-American chef, and a liberal mixologist all interact with the citizens of Waverly. The clashing values cause some uncomfortable (and shocking) moments for the new townies.
They often find themselves in situations where they disagree with the residents or find them biased or straight out racist. (Like the video above.)
This is happening all around the country with people who aren’t on TV — the show is simply bringing the divide to the forefront.
One study by political scientists at Princeton University found that people are “perfectly willing to openly decry, and actually discriminate against, those who identify with the party opposing their own.”
“Evidence demonstrates that hostile feelings for the opposing party are ingrained or automatic in voters' minds, and that affective polarization based on party is just as strong as polarization based on race. We further show that party cues exert powerful effects on nonpolitical judgments and behaviors. Partisans discriminate against opposing partisans, doing so to a degree that exceeds discrimination based on race.”
Of course, a 2011 study determined that “liberals and conservatives were comfortable with some level of bipartisanship among their friends” and that people found value in having friends with different opinions.
But it's not always easy to see it that way IRL. Many people get heated when someone insults their political leanings.
Psychologist Mindy Schiffman tells us you can try to diffuse the situation before it gets ugly.
"If someone insults you, I think you can just say that you are offended by their comment. With politics, it is important to stay calm and to let people know that you see things differently, and come to different conclusions," she says. "Try not to convince someone whose views are opposite yours to understand or agree with you. Often when people come at politics from a 180 degree view, you will not ever convince them that your argument even makes sense. But I think you can still just say, 'I disagree.'"
Therapist Liz Lasky tells Personal Space that “politics is so personal because our political affiliation mirrors our deepest and most private values.” In other words, an insult about a political opinion can feel like a personal attack and that's why people get so crazy.
“People misunderstand that sharing an opinion, yelling louder than the next person, or stating ‘facts’ will convince someone else that their opinion is right,” she says. “The truth is that everything boils down to belief and it's hard to argue someone out of their personal belief.”
Before you enter into a situation where you can imagine someone will disagree with you politically, she says just try to “have a mindset that you cannot change their opinion.” “All you can do is share how you feel,” she says. “Sharing how you feel, whether it's unheard, offended, surprised, sad, can be more powerful than yelling back.”
If you are in a situation where someone is biased against you, know you are not alone, Dr. Lasky explains. “There are a lot of people throughout this country who feel like outsiders. Again, sharing how you feel can be very powerful. Above all, please make sure that you feel safe in your surroundings. If you ever feel like you are in danger, call someone you trust, leave the situation, and know what you need in order to take care of yourself.”
Yes, it can get that ugly, unfortunately.
As for etiquette when entering a verbal battle, Protocol School of Texas founder Diane Gottsman tells us political arguments are now commonplace.
“You can’t avoid politics and there will always be someone who disagrees with your viewpoint,” Gottsman says. “However, it’s not smart or necessary to get in a heated debate when your job, relationships, or livelihood is on the line.”
Shut up sometimes.
You don’t have to share everything that is on your mind. You may disagree with another person’s political viewpoints, but it takes restraint and good judgment to keep your opinions to yourself.
If someone is biased against what you feel or have to say, you can simply say you would prefer to move onto another topic. Make the point that you understand everyone has personal viewpoints and let them know you respect theirs and would appreciate it if they would respect yours.
Keep your viewpoints off social media.
You set yourself up for discord.
A conversation does not have to turn into an argument. If someone is baiting you, don’t take the bait.
Keep your tone of voice neutral and your facial expressions pleasant.
There is no good outcome when debating over politics.
It’s not your job to change someone else’s mind. And, you might add, it’s not their job to change yours.
Everyone gets to vote … literally.
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