TTU students lament US polarisation ahead of Texas ballot count
- Texas Tech students spoke to NQ about their experiences in an America divided.
- Voters left bewildered at the polling booth by radicalisation on both sides.
- Students discuss the importance of local reporting during times of national events.
“I saw something on Twitter that said: ‘If you vote for Trump, you’re a racist and if you vote for Biden, you’re a paedophile’”
Such is the state of the polarisation in the US, according to Avery Dishaw, a journalism student at Texas Tech University.
Journalism students at TTU spoke to their MMU counterparts via zoom from Lubbock, TX, just as the Texas ballot closed and counting began, sharing their experiences of a viciously fragmented US in the midst of an election.
Lubbock is a small university town popular with retirees from north Texan ranches, dotted with “Mom ‘n’ Pop” stores and replete with southern charm, according to Dishaw.
It’s a traditionally conservative county, having voted Republican in the last five elections. In fact, it’s so conservative that the current conservative mayor is running against a conservative challenger.
Dishaw is covering the mayoral race, and highlights how many people can overlook the effects that local politics has on their lives as they devote a disproportionate amount of attention to national politics that have few tangible effects on them:
“I know that everyone is very concerned with national politics right now regarding the presidential election… and I think a lot of people forget that local politics directly affect you.”
Like many regions in the UK, one of the main causes of disagreement among Lubbock’s varying demographics is the pandemic. Dishaw said: “One really big issue that has become overly politicised is COVID-19,” going on to compare the left-leaning constituents’ fear of the virus and the more conservative constituents’ opting to protect the economy, resulting in tensions developing between the two.
Students at TTU spoke about similar polarisation taking place across the country, particularly online. Homing in on the echo chambers created by social media algorithms, Dishaw said: “You hear what you want to hear, you see what you want to see and keep returning to that.”
This rate of polarisation has been so bewildering that many feel left behind by both parties as they become too radical, according to Terry Blaine Boren: “I think Trump has a way of pushing actual conservatives away from the Republican party, because it’s not the Republican party anymore, it’s the party of Trump”.
TTU student Toluwani Osibamowo outlined how, while both sides of the political spectrum in the UK can agree on certain aspects of public life such as socialised healthcare, the US population has become deeply divided on almost every topic, but: “If anything unites people in the united states – it’s religion”.
Although even then, it isn’t so clear cut.
Journalism professor Lucinda Holt recalled the words of her own priest: “‘We should not be one-issue voters, and if you’re voting for the Christian candidate, you wouldn’t be voting for anyone.’”
Many of the TTU students believe that these divisions amongst the population have resulted in a rise in single issue voters, where people become transfixed on individual issues as the political turmoil around them intensifies.