OPINION: Compromise is key to democracy

Joshua Smith, Opinions Editor

Responding to the Uvalde shooting, actor and Uvalde native Matthew McConaughey delivered a blistering speech attacking senseless gun violence and inefficient gun legislation. He spoke about a need to come together and expressed his desire for change. However, one particular quote perfectly highlighted a much bigger political topic that has become more relevant with each passing year.

“I promise you, America…we are not as divided as we’re being told we are,” McConaughey said.

That quote resonated within me, and I found, though similar, it slightly diverged from the common language found among centrists voters. Whereas centrists may call for a middle ground, McConaughey argued that we are already of similar viewpoints. But is there any truth to that idea?

A recent poll by Politico showed that the majority of American voters agree on several issues: gun reform, infrastructure spending and healthcare reform. Moreover, with the growing radicalization of conservative news, voters and social media members seem to represent a larger group than what really exists.

The political discourse of the last few years has been overwhelmingly binary. That is to say that since the 2016 election, voters have been divided into two categories: pro-Trump and anti-Trump. And while this simple view seems accurate, it ignores the voters’ intentions for voting for or against the former president. For example, many citizens who voted for Trump did not share the majority of his views and were primarily single-issue voters. In a similar sense, many voters for Hilary Clinton and Joe Biden chose them because of their liberal but somewhat moderate views in contrast to the extremist views supported by their opponents.

Matthew McConaughey holds a picture of Alithia Ramirez
Actor Matthew McConaughey holds a picture of Alithia Ramirez, 10, who was killed in the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, as he speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Mary Davis, a University of North Florida (UNF) student in 2019, told Spinnaker her distaste for the media’s election coverage at the time. 

“It’s all about controversy,” she said. Davis also thought Biden was a “mess” but did say that she liked him. 

McConaughey and Davis, alike, have a point.

I remember talking to a professor a few ago about the idea of common heritage. Common heritage is the idea that certain global elements regarded as beneficial to humanity as a whole should not be unilaterally exploited by individual states or their nationals, but instead should be preserved as a whole for future generations.

For example, it would be illegal for any country to try to take control of international air space for the purposes of self-gain or exploitation. In a similar fashion, we should look at American politics as a common heritage. When a person gains citizenship, regardless of race, ethnicity or gender, they are American. This means that their voice matters just as much as another citizen. 

One group, because of their political beliefs, however right or wrong they may be, is not to make the country bend to their position. Compromise is essential to a fair and balanced democracy.

To make progress as a nation, we must develop an understanding that though we must never compromise our morals, we should be willing to come to amicable terms in order to make legislative changes. And hopefully, that sentiment will not only be held by voters but by politicians, as well.


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