The Miami Patriot is a small online “newspaper” founded this year. According to its mission statement, The Patriot seeks to provide “an alternative to echo chambers that obstruct the free flow of ideas.” The irony that by establishing a purely conservative outlet, The Patriot created yet another echo chamber was evidently lost on its founders.
Miami University is home to The Miami Student, an independent and credible college newspaper, yet that was not enough for a passionate subset of students. Many, if not all, of these passionate students could have been involved with The Student in some form. Likely the problem was that The Student, aside from its opinion articles and staff editorials, does not allow for blatant pushing of partisan narratives.
Our news outlets, social media, and even friendships have become increasingly divided along partisan lines, a phenomenon called polarization. Students at Miami, much like adults in our society, are polarized like never before.
Some would blame the idea of conservative grievance at the changes in society. Some would blame the increasing focus on identity politics. For whatever reason, people hear less and less from each other and instead create their own spaces.
Refusal to engage in a constructive conversation with each other and creating our own spaces to the degree of separate college news outlets is concerning and self-reinforcing. One can not understand groups different from their own by looking inwards. Polarization is reaching new heights and is apparent at all levels of society, including at Miami University.
All this is not to admonish The Patriot for its founding. Instead, recognizing that we are pushing apart without hearing each other should be paramount.
The free exchange of ideas is enshrined in our Constitution and the foundation of the democratic process. Slowly, these ideals are eroding.
Solutions are fraught and take humility, something that seems ever unlikely. Still, next time before sending a mean tweet, or starting a news outlet, maybe take a minute to seek out a person and start a conversation.
Perhaps the most well-known Republican put it best. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”
The United States, Ohio and Miami University look increasingly like a divided house.