Because I have a large number of friends in all areas of the political spectrum, my Facebook stream is very bipolar these days. My leftists Democrat friends are always tearing down President Trump and the GOP in Congress, calling them names, casting dispersions on everything that they do in government. My rightist’s Republican friends are ripping apart the Democrats and acting as good little apologists to the GOP platform. Meanwhile, my friends in the middle are just trying to stay out of the political fray. And me, the independent, Libertarian leaning, conservative watches it all and tries to engage where he can but it only makes me angrier and frustrated at our current historical status. Plenty of other people have noticed this too. I see it on the book covers that came up as I did research for this article. So what is the solution? I hope to outline that in this article today. First, the article will address the historical basis of our partisan politics. Secondly, the article will consider possible solutions to this mess. Thus, we will see there is a way out of this mess that we have made.
Partisanship is not anything new in the United States. In the Revolutionary era, there were Tories and Patriots. In the Critical Period, it was the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. And it did not take long before the creation of two major parties started to dominate our politics for the next two hundred plus years. Partisanship of the level we see today is not new. Patriots confiscated Loyalists Tory property and refused to give it back at the end of the War for American Independence. Federalists and Anti-Federalists alike canceled their subscriptions to newspapers that attempted to present the opposing side of the debate on ratification of the new U.S. Constitution. John Adams and the Federalists tried to silence Jefferson’s Democratic-Republicans in the press with laws. Charles Sumner beat Preston Brooks on the floor of the U.S. Senate during debates about slavery. The level of animosity, hatred, and mischaracterization that our two political parties have expressed towards one another is something that has existed as part of our historical culture for as long as we have been a country. In over two hundred years politicians and philosophers have not been able to find a way around this problem so we should take comfort in that. Our human sinfulness is what causes this. Our desire to be right and not see the other side of the issue, to paint ourselves in the best light and the “others” as bad or evil, is only human. So don’t think this is anything new. In the words of William Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” we are committing the oldest sins in the newest ways. But what can we do about this partisanship? How can we get through the partisanship and start becoming partners?
There is nothing that unites us in U.S. society and civilization because of our multiculturalism and ethnic diversity. Nothing but our shared belief in some ideas and concepts that have been around since our founding. The ideals of equality before God and man, inviolable rights, education being the path to a better life and government. We need to realize that despite our difference in public policy options and political parties allegiances we all want the same things. Democrats don’t want dead babies, and Republicans don’t want expectant mothers to care for children they can’t afford. Both Democrats and Republicans want good schools for their children. Both Democrats and Republicans the next generation to have it better than previous ones. People on both sides of the aisle need to stop believing and reinforcing the belief that the people on the other side are monsters, evil, and wrong, just because they believe there are different ways to achieve the same ends (I will admit I am guilty of this too).
Compromise has always been a dirty word in politics. Both sides do it only when it is necessary. Parties fight for control of legislatures and the executive offices in our states for the expressed purpose of NOT having to compromise. But if we are a nation of different political beliefs and options then we need to demand from our representatives that they compromise on EVERY piece of legislation. So that all people and citizens feel like the officials met their needs and that all sides have a place at the table. In bills on education funding, we do need to ensure the proper funding of our public schools so that all students have the same educational opportunities, regardless of where they live in our states. But there is room for charter school, vouchers, and other methods to help parents make the right decision about what is the best educational environment for their student. If one party is getting everything that they want it foments resentment and an all or nothing attitude of the other side when they come into power, and if recent history has taught us anything it’s that no party remains in power forever. We need to build room in every bill for compromise and bipartisanship.
So in summary, our partisanship is not a new problem in our country, but to fix this problem we need to stop seeing the other side as the enemy and make room in our legislative process for the people on the other side of the aisle so that all feel involved. This change is not going to start in Washington, D.C. or our state houses. This reform begins with our neighbors and us. We need to start seeing our Democratic and Republic friends as the same as us and demanding it from our elected representatives. We need to expect that our representatives, whether we voted for them or not, to compromise with the other side. It starts with us, “We the people…”
Thanks for your time. Questions? Comments? Concerns? Class dismissed!
“Partisan Quotes.” Noteable Quotes. Noteable Quotes, n.d. Web. 03 July 2017 (Featured Image).