The media has always been a driving force behind the countries attitudes and outlooks. It is a fact and never before have we seen in full swing as we have today. Thanks partly to the growth of the Internet, everyone can have a news outlet. Fox can support Republican causes with their views, MSNBC can support Democrat causes with their views and we the people can decide which we want to hear. The spin the media plays with us makes most of us confused. Look at it this way - let's say President Obama has a speech and says, "I believe milk is good for you unless you are lactose intolerant, then you should not drink milk." Sounds easy enough and logical doesn't it? I believe that Republicans and Democrats alike could agree that this is a reasonable statement from the President. Now, along comes MSNBC and they post this headline: "President Obama supports dairy industry". Then Fox jumps into the fray with "President Obama states you should not drink milk". Now, if you are a Democrat dairy farmer and you read MSNBC, you think the President is a great guy. If you are a Republican dairy farmer and you read Fox, you suddenly feel like the President is out to get you and destroy your business. It's all about how the media spins the story....make no mistake, this example occurs on Democrat and Republican liked news media equally - nobody is better or worse than the other - they all simply do it to rouse us up.
Once the news media has stuck a stick into the pot and stirred it around to rouse us up, all they have to do is watch social media's response. Those of us participating in social media read our favorite news outlet and then we immediately shoot off our own opinions online - I know I do. Once that opinion is out there, others are going to respond, and they don't always respond nicely. I have been called names, told I'm stupid, and even cursed through social media - all uncalled for in my opinion, but then again that's my opinion. The media has people so stirred up that they are angry. I have heard people say, "You should not be friends or even associate with Democrats," and they are serious! Now I have several friends who are Democrats and several family members who are also. I can tell you that the thought of not associating with my parents, for example, is really upsetting for me. But, that kind of thought pattern is what leads people to a blind dedication to a party and not to the nation.
Finally, perhaps due to the media and social media, our elected leaders often seem unwilling to compromise more than ever before. Not too many years ago, and ahead of instant news and instant social media, politicians - Republicans and Democrats-worked together and compromised. Reagan worked with a dominant Democrat Congress. Clinton worked with a dominant Republican Congress. Both of these Presidents -one Democrat and one Republican- had huge successes during their years as President. We may not all agree on those success, but the one thing we can agree on is that Clinton and Reagan are both popular Presidents and had overall good terms as President. What made Clinton and Reagan different? Remember, they worked with a Congress that was dominated by the opposite party for much of their terms, so why were they successful? Compromise.
Compromise and the willingness to work together for the common good of the nation is the reason that Reagan and Clinton were so successful as Presidents. Yes, we could spend time looking at Iran-Contra and yes we could spend time looking at Clinton's Impeachment, but overall they learned and implemented the use of compromise. Clinton and Reagan realized what many of us in the social media and following mainstream media do not these days and that is we are not all going to agree on everything, but we can agree on some things. The key to compromise is setting aside what you know you will not agree on, and focussing on what you do agree on to get something done.
Recently, I had a twitter conversation with a man who was anti-guns. This conversation naturally happened right after one of the recent shootings. What we found was very interesting - he believed we did not need guns and I believe we do - we simply could find no way to get around this point. We could have spent hours arguing statistics, where shootings happen, and how bad it is or is not going to be if everyone is carrying guns on their hips like the old west. We could have allowed our conversation to rise to name-calling, cursing, or even serious negative post about each other's views - we did not. Instead we decided that we were not going to agree on gun ownership and even gun carry issues. We decided to set those items aside and look at what we did agree on. Here is a short list of what we agreed on:
1. Regardless of the name (mass shooting) any shooting of people is bad.
2. Something needs to be done to stop these shootings.
3. Current background checks have been ineffective in stopping these shootings
4. Something needs to be done in gun free zones to ensure mass shootings do not or can not occur in them.
There were four areas that we agreed on almost immediately. Now, I will admit that we had different views on some of the individual parts of each area, but overall we decided in our conversation that we knew we would disagree, but that we would be civil, polite, and respectful of each other's opinions and ideas. By the end of the conversation we were friends who simply disagreed about certain points, we found that we both liked some of the same sports and even had other things in common. We even joked that our politicians should have to use 140 characters to discuss issues.
It is not that hard people. If we set aside what the media tries to make us believe and get the entire story for ourselves, we can be better. If we use our social media in a constructive and respectful way, we can do better. If we demand that our representatives work together and not against each other, we can move forward. Finally, if those elected officials would realize that they were elected with the support of a party, but they were elected to represent everyone, then we would move much further in the right direction. Maybe it's time we once again look at the flag and realize that there is not a Republican, Democrat or any other party picture or name on any part of that flag. There are fifty stars, representing fifty states - regardless of who is in Congress, regardless of who is President, we are still all in this together - let's start thinking for ourselves, cut out the media influence, respect and remain positive in social media, and remember it's "I pledge allegiance to the flag or the United States of America," and not to a specific party.