This snapshot was gathered in conjunction with the Maryland Voices initiative at Maryland Humanities, specifically to supplement the "Voices and Votes: Democracy in America" traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian's Museum on Main Street program. This collection, made up of stories of first-time voters between the ages of 18 and 24, showcases the experiences of young people as they wrestled with the 2020 presidential election, issues around social justice, the environment, immigration, and the pandemic.
Delanie Blubaugh (00:00): Okay. My name is Delanie Blubaugh. I am a junior political science and legal studies double major at Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland, so all the way up in the mountains in Western, Maryland.
Delanie Blubaugh (00:12): As a political science major, my professors tend to keep themselves relatively impartial. Every now and again, they'll let their personal opinion slide, but overall, they try to let us arrive at our own opinions and arrive at our own beliefs and argue it out if we have to in the middle of class sometimes. But we've talked a lot about this term that you hear so often, political polarization. And so I feel like that is not just in our federal government and in our national politics, it literally goes down to local politics as well. And so civil discourse nowadays, I feel like to the highest degree does not always exist. I think we've become unfortunately a lot less intolerant of each other in the last couple years.
Delanie Blubaugh (01:01): I feel as though this pandemic is kind of teaching us to be more tolerable of each other and more tolerable to other's experiences because it's showing that we are all people and there can be this thing that we didn't expect to happen that affects all of us and obviously affects all of us to different degrees depending on where you are in life, of course. But I think in the last couple of years, we've kind of forgotten that the people that are behind the screen perhaps are actual people too.
Delanie Blubaugh (01:32): And so civil discourse, I feel as though this election was difficult in terms of the political opinions that you may or may not have about either candidate, specifically talking presidential. But I think in terms of policy-wise because, of course different states saw different policies on the ballots as well, that people were actually able to engage in some sort of civil discourse because they were saying, "okay, like I kind of get it now. We're all people here. We're not just talking heads behind a screen, but we're actual human beings who experienced this crazy thing that we call life together or not together."
Delanie Blubaugh (02:14): In recent years, just because I have tried to keep my political opinions off of Facebook and different social media that I knew would potentially warrant a large argument just because I feel like the person who would engage in an argument with me or potentially I would engage in an argument with them, you never know what the event is. But I don't know if we're helping each other because you can't interpret tone from a comment on Facebook or a tweet on Twitter or a comment on Instagram or whatever it may be.
Delanie Blubaugh (02:47): And so I feel like quite often, especially on social media, we're not necessarily helping each other when we engage in especially explosive arguments by stretch any of the word, because you're going to believe what you believe and I'm going to believe what I believe. And we've arrived at these beliefs and these feelings about whatever we're talking about for some reason and in some way. Something in our life and our lives have led us to believe what we believe.
Delanie Blubaugh (03:18): So I think social media isn't necessarily beneficial when it comes to having political arguments or having civil discourse, because it's so hard to be civil when you can't see the person and when you can't interpret their tone because you can't hear them or you can't see their body language and their facial expressions and everything. But I would say for those who are engaging in arguments, you are tougher than I, I don't think I could handle it just because it would make me so nervous.
Delanie Blubaugh (03:51): If I were ever to engage in sort of a political conversation, not necessarily an argument, but a political conversation with differing sides on social media, I definitely just try to come to the table with facts and with reputable sources and maybe try to leave my personal emotions out of it, just because so often if you put your emotions into it you can get hurt intentionally or unintentionally. So I guess I would say [inaudible 00:04:22] many know to be true and the facts, and as much as you can give information wise.
Asset ID: 2021.03.08.a
Themes: University, dialogue, civil discourse, polarization, pandemic, tolerance, social media
Date recorded: January 29, 2021
Length of recording: 04:30 m
Related traveling exhibition: Voices and Votes: Democracy in America
Sponsor or affiliated organization: Allegany Museum, in partnership with Maryland Humanities
More information: https://www.mdhumanities.org/programs/museum-on-main-street/2021-2022-tour/