Not Such A Thin Line: Peoples Political Ideas Aren't Always Black And White

By Daniel Isacksen

Junior Max Byrd meets with government teacher Mr. Wright every day at lunch to talk about worldly matters. This lunch they were discussing the recent shooting in Brazil.                                         Photo Credit, Riley Dominianni

Democrats and Republicans are more divided than ever on immigration, transsexual and transgender rights, reproductive rights and gun control, among many other issues. Both parties have members whose beliefs reflect the most extreme versions of their ideologies. However, many Americans appear to prefer a more middle path.
Max Byrd, a junior at Loy Norrix, is an example of a growing number of Americans who don’t strictly follow a liberal or conservative viewpoint. Byrd says that he agrees with viewpoints from both political ideologies, and he makes decisions on these divisive issues using his own logic.
Byrd agrees with the left (Democrat) on issues such as sexual-orientation, abortion and immigration. He leans more to the right (Republican) regarding issues of gun control and healthcare. On some issues, he can see both sides.
A poll from “National Public Radio” showed that he is part of the 75 percent of Americans who think that assault rifles should be legal but that there should be stricter background checks before someone can purchase a gun. He also thinks that although birth control is a good idea, it shouldn’t be covered by employers through health insurance, making him part of the 51 percent of people who feel the same way according to a “CBS” poll.  
Byrd says that it can be hard sometimes because the environment at Loy Norrix reflects mostly liberal ideals.
“It’s a definite target on your head if you go here,” Byrd said, referring to having some conservative views.
For instance, Loy Norrix held a mock-election on October 26, 2018 and the results showed just how liberal the students at the school are. Democratic issues and candidates beat out their Republican counterparts in every single poll.
Conversely, Byrd said he received criticism at his old school for not being conservative enough.
“They told me to take the American flag off of my backpack because I wasn’t patriotic enough,” said Byrd, explaining that his peers didn’t think he deserved to wear the flag because of some of his non-conservative views.
Byrd believes that people don’t want to be around others who don’t have the same viewpoints as their own.
”People who watch only one news source will tend to stay with that one news source,” Byrd said, giving an example for why he thinks some people block out outside ideas and why he has been criticized for voicing his different opinions.
The “Pew Research Center” conducted polls in 1994, 2004 and 2014 to gauge how polarized the Democratic and Republican parties were. The 1994 and 2004 polls showed that most people were either consistently liberal or consistently conservative, with a small portion of people sharing views from both parties. In the 2014 poll the number of people with some conservative and some liberal views tripled.
Max Byrd is among this growing number of people who can see beyond their own political affiliation and attempt to understand all perspectives, his advice for doing this, “Understand everybody comes from different backgrounds will help you stay open to other people’s opinions”.