Sanders, Guns, and Polarization

By Harrison

To me, a just government is something that is rarely found. It is as equally challenging as it is probable. There will always be the “other side” unhappy with the way things are working, just because they don’t like that party. It is bound to occur.

I came into the class with a very rough unmolded thought of how the United States government works. I was almost completely wrong, and in my exposed state of not knowing, that is where I learned the most.

The politics and podcasts Monday’s were one of the most enjoyable parts of the class for me. It was a big highlight of my week to have productive conversations with my classmates. While at some points, most of us agreed on everything, there were definitely some memorable discussions when one or two people had different opinions. And that is the beauty of becoming adults and eligible voters. Most of the members of the class, seniors, will be or have already turned 18 and are eligible to vote. I don’t think this class would have had the same effect on me had the elections not been occurring right now. On top of the already interesting parts of our class about the structure of government and projects, I was starting to learn about my own thoughts and opinions through educated discussions and debates. Some of my classmates were also going through the same process of feeling and learning their way around. There were definitely some things I came to wrap my head around and solidify my views.

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I am a supporter of Bernie Sanders. I really think that he has what it takes to become president of the United States. Whether or not he will get elected, he has for sure sparked a flame in most Americans. Most other people in the class are also supporters of Bernie Sanders, so there were infrequent times where objections to his policies came into play.

Most of the class felt pretty one sided on most issues, but one of the places where I felt on a different side was in relation to gun laws.

 

Firearms have been a part of my families life for a while, my father is a gun owner that owns a variety of firearms. Him and I share similar views. To me, the most important part is protecting the responsible gun owner.

Jeff Koterba cartoon for January 10, 2013"Guns"
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I don’t want to be associated with somebody that shouldn’t have obtained a firearm, yet did, and shot up a store. However, part of being a responsible gun owner is understanding that there are some things I must give up. For example, waiting til I’m 21 to own a handgun, having a waiting period, understanding background checks, and giving up certain types of guns. The people that believe in absolute restriction-free gun laws are NOT responsible gun owners. But here’s the thing, with a two party system, I feel sometimes hesitant recognizing myself as a gun owner because I will be identified as somebody “who supports restriction free guns”, when in reality, that is not the case. Another flaw in the two party system is the association. Just because I am a gun owner doesn’t also mean I support every policy on the republican side.  It is my civil duty, and the civil duty of others to see over the fence, to compromise. And through our third project, I felt as if I did compromise as a gun owner, and I felt great about it.

A little bit at the time is the best way to go, and especially in Oregon, a state with relatively loose gun laws, a 10 day waiting period is something that I think the people could back and get behind. It’s about changing the attitude on guns, before you can change the laws. That is how any politician will find success pleasing both sides, give a little here and give a little there.

 

That leads me into my next topic. Something we really don’t see a lot in the United States is compromise between parties. As we learned earlier this year, the polarization in this country is the greatest it has ever been. As a highschool teenager in a class with other highschool teenagers, I am unlikely to see views that differ from my own. But, there are people that support Donald Trump, there are people that are against gay marriage. I just don’t know any of them. Is that a bad thing? Is that a good thing? How does that shape my political thoughts? And the even bigger challenge is trying to put yourself in another’s situation. I can imagine there is probably some government class at a private school in a different region of our country where students are baffled over the fact that somebody would support gun laws. But, it is everybody’s responsibility to see the other side.

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The polarization in our country comes from a couple of differnt things. We are in a two party system! This is such a flaw, it doesn’t allow people with mixed views any leighway. You’re either with somebody, or you’re against them. If you examine both parties you will notice that even within themselves there are candidates that are so far different from each other. So why do we still have a two party system?

I think that the most compromise in our government will come once there are more than two parties, then you have different “opponents” to negotiate with, different people who citizens can align themselves with. That is when you will see compromise, that is when you will see changes in laws and less gridlock, that is when you will find successful and just government.

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