A couple of weeks ago, I was having a nice political discussion with one of my ultra-conservative friends (who is ironically a member of a worker’s union), and he made a statement about how Nancy Pelosi had nothing to say when Rush Limbaugh was rushed to the hospital. Me, being the moderate I am, turned that around on him and reminded him what Rush had to say when Ted Kennedy died (sorry for the HuffPo link, but it was the first Google result). Then I began thinking about our current political polarization here in America, and when you think about it, it is really disheartening. We have become so quick to draw party lines and point fingers that we have forgotten what we are fighting for.

It doesn’t matter if you are a baby-killing liberal Democrat or a gay-bashing conservativeRepublican, we are all Americans and want the same things – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Being the intrinsically self-centered creatures we are, we tend think that our idea for attaining these things is the best thing since sliced bread and that all opposing ideas are evil plots specifically designed to destroy us and undermine the nation. Whatever happened to critical thinking? The only thing that is really destroying us is our inability to consider opposing ideas as viable solutions to a common problem.

No one claims to be right 100% of the time until you come to political topics, then they transform into a inerrant scholar and will not concede the argument no matter how many facts you throw at them. They completely reject any other approach and remain blissfully ignorant and arrogant. To move forward we need to purge this mentality and accept the fact that we can sometimes be wrong in our political views and ideals. All opposing views should be met with careful consideration rather than blistering criticism. Facts and analysis should always trump buzzwords and speculation.

Three simple steps to becoming a critical thinker:

  1. Admit you can be wrong
  2. Look at the facts
  3. Quite acting like a jerk

We have to work together to fix our problems and not declare “it’s our way or the highway” (big thanks to Scott Brown for stopping this from happening).

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