Navigating political conversations can be difficult when topics like healthcare, environmental change, social justice and coronavirus policy are at the forefront of the public cognizance. The Miami Hurricane spoke with students about the intermingling of friends, family and politics during these turbulent times.
Taylor Jagolinzer, a freshman majoring in marine science and biology, said he never engaged in politics until the 2016 presidential election.
“I guess I didn’t really know how big of an impact it was going to have on my relationships with people because up until then, politics wasn’t really something I cared about,” Jagolinzer said. “In high school, once I realized I was queer, I started to realize that that was my life that they were talking about, so I have to have a stance.”
Jagolinzer said that although he hasn’t had to stop associating with anyone in his personal life, politics have caused him to distance himself from his maternal grandparents, who he notes are “religious and pretty opinionated.”
“She grew up in Oklahoma. Growing up, it wasn’t an issue at all because it wasn’t as polarizing as it is now,” Jagolinzer said.
Jagolinzer said that although they assured him that he would be loved and supported after he came out, he still gets cards addressed to their “granddaughter.”
“I guess it’s become more difficult to trust them or relate to them when I know that they directly support people that don’t wanna support me,” Jagolinzer said.
However, the election brought him closer to his sister because they share the same views, adding that he respects her involvement in social movements
“As we’ve matured, we’ve found some things we can agree on, and politics is definitely one of them,” Jagolinzer said.
Not everyone is afraid to discuss politics with people. David Caldarella, a freshman majoring in music composition, said he welcomes political conversation, even with those that have different views than him.
“My best friend is very open to discussing politics, and even though we have sort of conflicting views sometimes, we both learn from each other,” Caldarella said. “He actually has changed a lot and sort of looks at politics differently from some of the discussions we have had, which is great.”
Nevertheless, Caldarella still faces disagreements with people regarding their political stance. He said he often disagrees with people from his local area on issues, and that the biggest problem is that most of the people aren’t educated about the opinions that they have.
“You can have an opinion, but if you choose not to inform yourself about that opinion, and if you just keep it stubbornly, then you can’t be expected to have your opinion be treated the same level as someone’s mature, well thought out opinion,” Caldarella said.
Liana Stern, a freshman majoring in public relations, said political conversation is a part of who she is. She says her middle school teachers influenced her greatly, adding that they would actively talk about amendments, initiate class debates and always keep students informed
“We were kinda made into little social justice warriors,” Stern said. “My friends and I would also routinely comment on people’s social media posts intentionally starting dialogue in the comments about different rights.”
Stern and her friends still respond to political posts and credit the process to helping them bring them closer together since they all share the same views. She said she also enjoys initiating dialogues with people in order to see different perspectives and offer up her own perspective to others.
“In eighth grade, I remember posting a picture of Trump on the T.V. and getting 400 comments of people wanting to discuss,” Stern said.
Stern also discusses politics with her family. Her mom and her sisters have a group chat where they talk about politics almost daily, despite their physical distance.
As a young black woman, Stern said she feels like she has to be involved, so it is nice that they can be involved as a family.
“Knowing that people are actively voting against issues involving myself and my rights before even knowing them doesn’t sit well with me, especially since I am Black,” Stern said. “But with my family, we’re all feeling the same thing together, so it makes us stronger together.”