Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School
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The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

The student news site of Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School

The Lion's Tale

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The Lion's TaleJune 2, 2024

In the midst of all of the protests seen on various college campuses across the country, it seems as though the Israel-Hamas war has become even...

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Politics should unite us, not divide us

The+two-party+system+in+American+breeds+political+polarization.+
Kaylah Goldrich
The two-party system in American breeds political polarization.

“Politics” is a word that has slowly morphed into a demon that reflects the turbulent social and cultural zeitgeist of the 21st century, especially in the United States and other forms of representative democracies or constitutional republics. And that needs to change.

The rapid social polarization of the U.S. population and its effects have only really been shown in the last two election cycles with more unrest regarding the respective elections than ever before. Even though historically, the popular vote in American presidential elections has almost always been split relatively evenly, there has rarely been as much of a social divide as there is today.

One factor that I believe is partially responsible for this schism is the two-party system in our presidential elections. Essentially forcing everyone to vote for what has become a lesser of two evils as a result of the closed-off nature of our election systems. 60% of Americans label themselves as centrists, so the current system forces them to side with one radical faction instead of choosing their candidate based on their complex belief systems which are more likely to not fully coincide with one of the mainstream parties. 

In addition, buzzwords such as “woke” and “neocon” indicate a greater immersion of identity politics or cultural issues into political discussions, debates and policies. Although our cultural identities will impact our political views, it’s overused. To elicit fear or support, one group tricks people into conforming and subscribing to all of that party’s beliefs and core ideologies in exchange for assuring them that their core values will be represented. 

Lastly, social media cannot be ignored when we take a step back and figure out how we got to this severe social divide. Simply because information can be shared to the entire planet in a matter of seconds, people aren’t able to fully digest, rationalize, and formulate opinions on anything before they are exposed to a wave of varying, emotionally charged responses.

This, along with the idea of echo chambers and confirmation bias habits further clouding people’s judgment on current events online, are valuable in contextualizing the psyche of the average American and their voting data. It is also extremely important to recognize the spread of misinformation online, which only confuses and misdirects people to become more extreme in their viewpoints on either side of the political spectrum. 

All of these factors concerning the exponential rise of polarization in the U.S. dampen or silence the complexity of how we process information and our experiences which then inform our political views. It forces people to choose a side in what has been painted as a form of a culture war, with one side being seen as the fully correct and morally sound solution and the other being depicted as the most evil and deplorable group.

One of the main dangers of this is that it makes it significantly easier for people to not only dismiss others’ political views because of their association with some group, but it also creates what some perceive as a valid shortcut to dehumanization of the “other side” as a result of said culture war. 

As much as I wish that these ideas don’t permeate our lives, they enter our conversations, thoughts and preconceived notions about others whether we recognize it or not.

I’ve had a hard time navigating the political world in its current state. But the reality is that so few people with opposing opinions on any given issue are willing or able to have a civilized discussion about it. 

I like to think that I have a relatively open mind when it comes to discussions about politics. Unfortunately, I have not had many opportunities to encounter differing opinions from my own at such a small school as CESJDS. But as I transition to college, I know that there will be many opportunities to hopefully have meaningful conversations about ideas that are so polarizing on the political stage and inside endless chat logs online even despite the current tensions on college campuses regarding the conflict in Israel.

Especially as a Jew, I think my views on Israel and the current conflict are somewhat more right-leaning than most people who would identify as a liberal or a Democrat. I do not affiliate with the radical right-wing ideas on the conflict, nor do I support the radical left-wing ideologies, but simply saying that Israel should exist excludes me from the liberal camp and therefore puts me closer to the conservative one. 

Considering that so few people in the U.S. and worldwide support Jews to any degree, it is my moral imperative to represent such a belittled minority to the best of my ability without compromising my morals but also being open to mental flexibility regarding my views on any topic or idea. As the times change, people can change with it, and I intend to be open to new ideas without immediately embracing or rejecting them because of my political affiliation.

By replacing emotional and instinctive political views with ones founded on morals, logic and facts, we can slowly move towards a society that still can and will disagree on almost everything. Still, hopefully, we will be able to discuss ideas in a reasonable and civilized manner. 

In the modern political landscape, the only things that truly unite us fully are tragedies. Let us, rather, be united in our shared humanity rather than by factions that only intend to take advantage of our inflexibility and pit us against each other.

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About the Contributors
Jonah Beinart
Jonah Beinart, Features Editor
Breaking news: there’s a new features editor in town, and he’s ready to continue his work on The Lion’s Tale. Jonah is a section editor on the Bohr Franklin Science Journal and writes for his neighborhood newspaper, the Lakelands Leader. He is also an avid runner and participates in cross-country and track throughout the year. He hopes that he can round out high school with a great year on the publication. His favorite poem is the Jabberwocky  
Ari Kittrie
Ari Kittrie, Managing Editor, Web
Being a Reporter and Opinion Editor during the last few years, Ari is ready to take on the position of Managing Editor. His experience includes being an Election Judge for the Montgomery County Board of Elections and volunteering for various politicians from all levels of government. Additionally, Ari enjoys in his free time wrestling, volleyball, and sometimes cooking.  
Kaylah Goldrich
Kaylah Goldrich, Editor-in-Chief
Kaylah Goldrich is so excited to continue her work on Lion’s Tale as Editor-in-Chief after previously serving as the Sports Editor. She enjoys writing and editing articles and loves designing spreads for the monthly print edition. Outside of the newspaper, Kaylah is a proud co-captain of the debate team and a player on the varsity soccer and softball teams. She spends her free time being a diehard Yankees fan and can always be found watching a sports game. Kaylah is very excited to take on this new role and cannot wait to work with the new editors and reporters.

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