America's Timeline founder Mike Lopato is a thinker at heart. Though decades of life experience and political discussions have left him with strong positions on many of the issues discussed here, he remains open to persuasion if new facts suggest otherwise. He has lived in large cities and small ones, in red states and blue ones, in America and abroad. He has worked with liberals, conservatives, and everyone in-between—and he has friends (and enemies) on all sides of the political spectrum. Mike Lopato graduated from St. John's University (Queens, NY) in 2013 with a degree in Government and Politics (minors in Computer Science and Philosophy of Law) and graduated from Columbia University (New York, NY) in 2016 with an M.A. in Philosophy. He currently works in New York City as a software and data analyst.
Mike Lopato believes that there are several problems plaguing our political discourse in today's world—which have transformed politics from an endless well of thoughtful and inspiring debates to a mud pit of mindless drivel and fistfights. Most notably:
1. We don't really understand the other side—or their arguments. Many people claim to listen to the other side but really only see the demonized version of the other side as presented by their own.
The left and the right don't just hold different positions on the same issues; they fundamentally speak different languages, and they categorize issues in very different ways. For example, many socialists and liberals might say: "America is a capitalist country (it is not socialist) and this is a bad thing." But many free-market conservatives and libertarians would say: "America is not a capitalist country (it is corporatist), and this is a bad thing." The difference in language is just as stark between those who support establishment candidates and those who support populist candidates—and until one is politically multilingual, one hasn't truly understood the other side.
2. We forget what happened yesterday. News and politics now draw more attention than ever, but our attention spans are growing shorter. When there is one shocking news story after another, everything has a sense of urgency, but yesterday's urgent issue has already been forgotten. This makes it difficult to think with the long-term in mind, and it is a sin for which all political positions are equally guilty.
3. We don't understand how many sides there really are. It is convenient to think of all political discussion as a battle between left and right, but when we do this, we miss a lot of important things. A Bernie Sanders supporter may actually prefer Trump to Clinton, just as a John Kasich supporter might prefer Clinton to Trump. There are at least four
"parties" in mainstream American politics—the populist left, the establishment left, the establishment right, and the populist right. To view the world more simply than this means that we miss people's true motivations—and causes us to support people whom, had we thought about it further, we might actually despise.
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