We've all been there -- the dinner table, the break room, the bar -- when conversations turn political and things get ugly. It's like that all across America because we are deeply polarized. In fact, the last time we had this much of a breakdown in government we had ourselves a civil war.
The country is bigger now, and the ramifications of polarization are more complex than what split America back then. There is a rift between conservatives and liberals, southerners and northerners, rich and poor, Christians and Muslims, and on and on and on. We are a huge nation covering millions of miles and we are at a stand-still because we have forgotten that we have the country in common. Our fates are intertwined in a way most of us can’t articulate, but even Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders supporters share the same common core of frustration. Unfortunately, Trump stans don’t really talk to Bernie bros. Liberals, conservatives, and independents all know the system is fundamentally flawed, but there won't be steps forward until we learn how to talk to each other about it.
Think about it, when is the last time you had a pleasant conversation with someone with very different political opinions than you? If you can remember the last time, you are one of the few. The palpable atmosphere in the country on both the right and the left is distrust in politicians, distrust in the system, and most cripplingly, distrust in each other. We need help! There aren’t enough opportunities for good-natured political debate in our culture, but what if more people utilized weed for the purpose of talking about politics? Weed makes people less antagonistic and more willing to listen (or at least not shout), and for an aggressive society on the edge, there could be a lot of value in that.
Right now the preferred (fully legal) social lubricant is alcohol, which can exacerbate aggressive behavior. Weed usually has the opposite effect, and might even encourage the kind of expansive thinking missing from standard political debate. Imagine this year’s post-election holiday dinner with high Aunt Helen instead of drunk Uncle Joe. Perhaps in an era where dispensaries populate street corners and options for consumption abound, we should turn to weed more often to help navigate our politically divided dinner tables.
The U.S. was founded by very philosophical people, so why not get back to our roots by encouraging more philosophical communities, aided by one of the fastest-growing industries in the country? I understand this may not work for (some) people in older generations, but there is definitely a thirst for high-level conversation among young people. We don’t like bullshit, we like authenticity, and the majority of our generation supports the legalization of weed. What better way to make the American political debate better suited for our time? You may say it’s a pipe dream, but what a pipe dream it could be.