Have you ever noticed that person who, no matter what you’re talking about, warps your statement about to fit their pet cause?

For instance, you say “I don’t think I will vote for Hillary Clinton. I don’t like her position on foreign policy.”

Then they say “That’s because you’re a part of the heterosexual misogynistic white male privileged ruling class!” 

{blink. blink}  “Huh?!”

You can follow up your statement with informed commentary about foreign policies or tax plans, but it won’t matter. You’ll still be accused of using those as a convenient cover for your real agenda, even if you have spent most of your life prior to this moment working to help defeat the exact thing you’re being accused of. The chances are you will not even get a chance to explain your position because that’s not how real prejudice works.

At its core prejudice is simply an opinion that is formed without any prior information on the actual person in question. Instead they’re based on someone’s personal (mostly uninformed) views or with some helpful influence from their peers. And the more you limit your media input, the more you reinforce your concrete prejudice with rebar. Blah. Blah. Blah. And all of this contributes to some forgone conclusion someone makes before you even get to open your mouth.

So not voting for someone who happens to be a woman doesn’t make you sexist if you’re purely opposed to their politics. But if even a small part of you is opposed to voting for say, a woman for president because you think woman are prone to looking at world differently than men, then that would qualify as prejudice. Yes, even if you think having the woman president would be an improvement, just because she’s a woman! That is a prejudice! The same as thinking someone should be disqualified to be president because you don’t like their Arabic middle name. It’s the flip side of the same coin. 

And it’s actually what’s wrong with everything. 

Think about it. Every person, group, culture, whatever, has its own needs. We have all learned that to get those needs met we should band together and lobby for change. We do it for laws and liberties, and we do it for recognition and acceptance. At its core the LBGTQA community’s push for acceptance and equality at the public level is the same type of self-serving action as Hobby Lobby’s holy mission to not pay for birth control. 

We are all seeking for ourselves because we feel like we have been marginalized by others who are doing the same. And the worst part is, the two big political parties know this. They use this! 

As political strategists have become more and more able to parse the voters into micro-segments, they have realized that capitalizing on our differences is how to win election. But of course, they can only go so far. Once they have divided us from “them” they will also have to unify us with “those other people” who we were originally told to hate during the primaries. But now because we need to band together and hate an entirely different group, it’s okay because they’re really just like us.

As long as we let them pigeonhole us into their predefined groups, the more they get to keep their 2 party system, which is built to sustain itself. They have never been primarily concerned with the best interests of the country. Interest #1 has always been the perpetuation of the party. Interest #2 is win seats. While #3 is to do so in the best interests of what the party thinks the country needs. 

And yet, one thing for sure that we saw this political season is that most Americans identify as Independent. We only need fight against their categorizing us into their political corrals, and begin to build the independent force that they know exists and have been striving to keep separated. But we also need to look at the other special interest group next to us and realize we should join with them to get both of our voices heard, and don’t let them separate us. Our understanding and cooperation is their biggest fear, and our biggest weapon.