O’Donnell: Political Profiling: boxes are for ballots


A.J.K O’Donnell

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It seems that all one must do to realize it is election season in the United States is look out their window or any given media platform. Debates, now for the presidency, are approaching, after we endured months of previous debates or what somehow was deemed as such.

In Iowa City, as students have trekked to classrooms, lecture halls, and coffeehouses, it is likely they have been approached by individuals with voter-registration forms. With a population of students who are not registered in Iowa for November’s election, these applications for voting in Iowa City is imperative to use, and they provide non-Iowa students the resource to fulfill their civic duty of casting a ballot.

Accompanied by the process of voter registration, heightened political discussions, and the fellowship found in organized meetings, seems to be another aspect of the political season. Sadly, this attribute of any political atmosphere is one that can be extremely invalidating and ignorantly used to shame or perpetuate stereotypes.

Profiling is a phrase many Americans may be accustomed to hearing, specifically in the heavily watched criminal dramas on our television networks. In vernacular definition, profiling can be seen as “judging a book by its cover” or “reading people”; basically, you take in external cues from people’s presence or behavior and formulate an understanding of them as an entity. While it may not always be a conscious decision, profiling becomes problematic in that it can very quickly become discrimination, prejudice, or other forms of malicious mindsets.

“Political profiling” can be then understood as profiling or formulating an analysis on people, based solely upon their outward behaviors or presence and their political affiliations. This becomes divisive and inaccurate when people broadly assume collective communities to be the tokens of certain parties. I am sure there are Islamic community members, very few, though, I would imagine, who support Donald Trump. I am certain there are wealthy, straight, white men who back Hillary Clinton. There are women Republicans, gay Republicans, Christian Democrats, pro-life Democrats, and though society may raise an eyebrow at a “disconnect” they have decided to see, these intertwined identities do not negate one or the other.

Every voter in this country has experienced a vastly different life from you, and vice versa. Denoting a queer man who supports Clinton because she support queer marriage 10 years ago, reduces that person to a single identity and applies it to their civic understanding. It is fairly insulting to dictate one’s supposed political voting, party, or affiliations, to a singular aspect of their entire personhood. Instead of saying all Trump supporters are horrid or all Clinton supporters are brainwashed and ignorant, open dialogues to talk about the issues at hand. Learn why others support a different candidate or party from you, but also be open-minded and do not assume other people have no clue what they are spewing out of their mouth.

These issues are important, and I personally pray our next president is ready to cultivate a healthier American community. The voting community needs to begin to validate one another, despite political choices or perceived preferences. Our country is not Democrats, Republicans, or independent parties. Our country is hurting across the spectrum, and only through the termination of judgmental politics, assumptions about other’s experiences, and the foundation of respecting individuals as people and not parties is how our country will truly begin to function as one entity in which all people are welcomed, validated, and cherished.

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