There’s an obvious political divide in the United States that goes far beyond party and policy.

It’s a division you see in-person and online that’s amplified by those on the far right or left, with moderates afraid to speak because of the backlash they’d receive depending on who their comments don’t favor.

American politics isn’t designed to appease the wants of all American citizens, but it is designed to create a democratic republic where it is the voice of the American people who get to decide its leaders and needs.

The issue today is that many conservatives deem liberals as extremists and vice versa.

Just because your friend didn’t vote for the candidate you voted for, doesn’t mean they can’t be your friend anymore.

This idea that there’s only one right answer and that those opposed to it are ignorant, is an idea that debunks the values of free speech and democracy.

Donald Trump is as polarizing a political figure as any in American history.

Trump has been accused of being racist, misogynistic, a liar, temperamental, and overly unqualified to be president, among a long grocery list of accusations.

So, sure, many can agree that Trump isn’t the ideal choice to be Commander in Chief, but that doesn’t mean it should be okay to criminalize those that have supported him.

People seem to generalize and there’s a believe that if you had the gall to walk into a voting booth on election day and mark Donald J. Trump as your choice for president, that you too are racist, misogynistic, ignorant, etc.

But ladies and gentleman, that shouldn’t be the case.

I voted for Hilary Clinton while being well-aware of the baggage she carried, and though some of my friends and I spent much of election season in heated conversation about who the “lesser of two evils” is, we knew that it would be beneath us to let politics dismantle our relationships.

Now people will use the “we told you so” argument against Trump supporters regarding his first month in office, and though I am 100% percent in favor of fighting and protesting many of his policies, cabinet nominations, and his marginalization of the press, I still don’t see the logic in alienating half of the people in this country who voted for Trump and placing them in a “basket of deplorables” as Hilary Clinton so infamously said.

But to Trump supporters, I say this: don’t succumb to the stereotypes that people have about you if you don’t want to be judged for your choices.

I was on a bus on my way to class the other day when I heard two male Trump supporters my age talking politics when I overheard them saying that they hate feminist, that protesting is a waste of time that doesn’t garner results, and that the Muslim immigration ban was everything they had hoped for, all while speaking with an obvious tone of arrogance.

And then of course you have your “get off my lawn” old-timers in their make America great again hats, that spew racism and misogyny like it’s 1930.

See, these are the types subgroups of Trump supporters that give the entire group a bad rep.

Meanwhile, you have your Madonna’s of the world inciting thoughts of violence by saying she’s dreamt of bombing the white house, without even so much as a REAL investigation made on her because of her stardom.

So, you see, everyone should be held accountable because it’s people on both sides of the tape that are contributing to this cultural divide, all while we’ve got the conductor of the orchestra sitting in the oval office telling everyone that he “inherited this mess,” taking no accountability, and saying that the country will come together under his watch, all while delegitimizing the press and using them as a scapegoat to blame for our nation’s issues.

So, you ask yourself, what can you do to lighten the tension and make sense of the current administration?

Well you start off by having conversations, reading legitimate articles from legitimate sources to understand what’s going on, watching the news and doing research, but most importantly, you stop making assumptions about people.

The irony of President Trump’s victory is that while it surely has contributed to the divide in our nation, it’s also united specific groups in an unprecedented manner.

We’ve seen notable republicans like Sen. John McCain criticize some of the white house’s comments and actions, we’ve seen conservative journalists like FOX new’s Shepard Smith and Chris Wallace come to the aide of fellow journalists from liberal outlets after a white house press conference in which the sitting president of the United States bashed multiple media outlets for being “fake news” and identified the press as an enemy of the people, and most importantly we’ve seen people of multiple backgrounds, race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion come together to protest what many deem to be a discriminatory white house.

So now that we’ve reached the official end of month one of the Donald Trump administration, we can take solace in the fact that although it’s already been a hectic start for many and on the outside, we may look as divided as we’ve been in decades, we know that the way to overcome the divide lies within ourselves and our ability to communicate and respect one another, and in our capability to unite against tyranny.

Now you challenge yourself by calling your friends you haven’t spoken to since election day, going out and having a beer with a republican, catching a game with a democrat, and by comforting your friends who are legitimately scared and uncertain about their future.

Advisors with ties to Russia, executive orders affecting the lives of undeserving people, press conferences designed to annihilate the media, senate sit-ins and filibusters, hateful rhetoric against people of a certain faith or sexual orientation, acts of racism, misogyny, and scheduled marches or protests every week.

This is what’s becoming normalized today, and it’s an incredibly unreasonable idea to think that this okay and that it’s simply just the new standard of living.

So, although it’s necessary that we hold the administration accountable, we as American citizens should hold ourselves to a level of accountability as well, because if we want the standards of living to change, we ALL must raise our own standards first.

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