Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) drew bipartisan criticism on Monday after calling for a “national divorce” between “red” states and “blue” states.
We need a national divorce.— Marjorie Taylor Greene (@mtgreenee) February 20, 2023
We need to separate by red states and blue states and shrink the federal government.
Everyone I talk to says this.
From the sick and disgusting woke culture issues shoved down our throats to the Democrat’s traitorous America Last policies, we are… https://t.co/Azn8YF1UUy
America's partisan polarization can feel insurmountable, but at AllSides, we believe that cross-partisan understanding and respect can help bridge the gap.
Here are five things you can do instead of buying into the idea of a “national divorce.”
1. Don’t Lose Faith in American Ideals
Remember that democracy is fragile and requires work to maintain. It requires accepting disagreement; our ideas and institutions are weaker if we don’t. Of America’s many mistakes, most were resolved by Americans who spoke out against them — even when it was unpopular or controversial. We haven’t always lived up to America’s ideals, but if we give up now, we can guarantee that we never will.
America was never expected to succeed; many of its founding fathers were scrappy twenty-somethings, and some of them disagreed so strongly that they killed each other (Not that we should do that!). The American project has always been ambitious and difficult. Our citizens are bound not by a common ethnicity or religion, but by a set of ideas — ones that have always been contentious.
2. Burst Your Filter Bubble by Reading News from the Left, Right, and Center
Many people have difficulty understanding the other side of national debates because their preferred news sources highlight different facts and fail to fully explain why the other side thinks the way it does. This creates a “filter bubble” that blocks out understanding.
It’s this kind of ignorance that leads people to assume others are simply crazy, or even “traitorous.” Often, the people you think are irrational are just as ignorant of your experience as you are of theirs.
While you can’t control how other people get their information, you can improve your own news diet by keeping up with the biases and narratives of news sources aligned with the left, right, and center.
You probably won’t agree with how different news outlets frame things, but you’ll learn a lot about why your differently-minded neighbors disagree with you. You can then use that knowledge to communicate effectively across partisan divides, instead of settling for a “national divorce.”
You can compare news from across the news media with AllSides’ Headline Roundups and Balanced News Feed.
3. Attend a Bridging Event Online or In-Person
Our partners at Braver Angels and Living Room Conversations host conversations about pressing issues, allowing Americans from all walks of life to discuss across differences. College students can also join a local BridgeUSA chapter to engage in discussions across the partisan divide. A wide array of discussion events can be found in the Discuss & Debate section of our homepage.
These discussions, whether virtual or in person, allow you to talk with real people. When you engage one-on-one with others, they will likely seem much more reasonable than they seem on Twitter. Each person has experiences that informed their beliefs, and in-person discussion allows us to explore those experiences by asking questions and getting to the root of our disagreements.
Don’t misconstrue it — these discussions don’t just involve sitting around and agreeing with each other. Sometimes participants vehemently disagree, especially when they have a personal stake in the issue. But we don’t lose the intimacy of interpersonal relationships. Bridging events are an invitation to learn what others have at stake.
4. Spend More Time in Rural or Urban Areas (Whichever You Aren’t From)
America’s current “red” vs “blue” divide is often correlated with population density — a phenomenon commonly known as the “urban-rural divide.” Thus, when liberals are mad at conservatives, or vice-versa, they’re often mad at people who come from a different place — literally.
So, if you’re having disagreements with your urban or rural neighbors, maybe it’s time to pay them a visit.
If you live in a city, try planning a weekend trip to a farmer’s market on the outskirts of town. If you live in a rural area, try visiting a museum in a nearby city. And if you live in a suburb, do both!
There are plenty of opportunities for exploring different communities while having a good time. Bridging divides might seem intimidating, but it can also be fun!
Your physical environment can play a substantial role in forming your perspective. Removing yourself from the environment that informs your own beliefs and entering the environment that informs your political opponents’ beliefs can help you understand why America’s political disagreements exist.
Empathy — putting yourself in another’s shoes — is the first step on the road to healing social divides.
5. Pay Less Attention to Polarizing Rhetoric
It might seem obvious, but it needs to be said — you don’t actually have to pay attention to divisive or antagonistic rhetoric.
Today’s hyper-online political landscape rewards anything that grabs the public’s attention; that means polarizing arguments that incite anger are often pushed into your news feed by algorithms. Public figures like Marjorie Taylor Greene know this and use this to raise their public profile; gaining a national megaphone is as simple as calling for a “national divorce” from the “traitorous” Democrats.
Fortunately, mitigating this phenomenon is also simple — just ignore it!
To practice, let’s say someone shares a tweet saying a party (Democrats or Republicans, whichever you like least) is “Plotting To DESTROY AMERICA!!!” Instead of thinking, “Oh screw that guy!” or “They’re right, those guys are evil!”, simply think “whatever” and keep scrolling. It might not seem like it, but it really is that easy. There is no rule saying you have to stop and form an opinion about everything you see online.
This doesn’t mean you should ignore other perspectives entirely. It’s still important to understand why others might desire a political outcome you oppose. But if someone is using sensational rhetoric to divide you from your neighbors, it isn’t helpful to lend them your attention. Your attention is valuable — don’t waste it. (I recognize that by writing this article, I am violating this principle. But you can always stop reading! I, for example, will stop writing now.)
Joseph Ratliff is a Daily News Editor at AllSides. He has a Lean Left bias.
Bridging and Bias Assistant Clare Ashcraft (Center bias) contributed to this article.
This article was reviewed by News Curator Andy Gorel (Center bias) and Julie Mastrine, Director of Marketing and Media Bias Ratings at AllSides (Lean Right Bias).