“Partisanship is our great curse. We too readily assume that everything has two sides and that it is our duty to be on one or the other.” -James Harvey Robinson
Bipartisan politics, amirite? [insert jazz hands here]
The good ol’ US of A seems to do a perpetual seesaw back and forth between two major political parties, Republicans (GOP) and Democrats (DNC). There are multiple other parties one can be affiliated with, including some sub-sects of parties, however, we all know that there are two main groups running the show. In our more recent years, partisan politics have become pretty vigorously against the opposite side of the aisle, and have been practicing the fine art of cutting off one’s nose to spite their face. But, in this scenario, they’re cutting off the noses of the American public to spite the face of…the American public.
Well, in the words of fictional serial killer, Dexter Morgan, “Stop, that never helped anybody.”
Really, though, if you step back, away from your own political beliefs and ideologies, and take a look at what our supposed government representation is doing to our country, to its citizens, you might see where I’m going with this. How many instances can you recall in the past ten years or so, where partisan politicking interfered with societal progress? It has hindered nominations for the Supreme Court, Cabinet positions, healthcare reforms, and countless other issues, for years. And oddly, while all of this is going on, the American public are being snowed. We are being placed at each other’s throats, teeth bared and gnashing, absolutely prepared to get a nice, big, juicy bite from the rear end of anyone who doesn’t align themselves with us, politically.
To be fair, there are a lot of things in each political party’s ideological systems that merit debate, argument, and sometimes, outright fighting. We should never accept any political action or belief that is rooted in racism, ableism, sexism, and the like. But we’ve come to a point where name calling (libtard, snowflake, extremist, ideologue, et cetera) is the norm, and when anything goes awry, that is immediately blamed on the other party.
Now, this isn’t just our government doing this. Media outlets do, as well. Many participate in responsible, ethical journalistic practices, however, there are far too many that do not. They are based in opinion rather than fact, and unfortunately, there are large numbers of people in our nation that don’t understand or respect that; they expect the “news” to report on fact, and fact only. Hell, even if we recognize that media outlets are biased, and try to maintain an open mind, eventually, our thought processes can be influenced, whether we recognize it or not.
We tend to want to surround ourselves with people like us: those who look like us, speak like us, believe in the same things we believe in. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be among people you feel safe and comfortable around, but we should also be striving to reach out and find some level of common ground with those who are different. How else can we learn? We don’t have to agree, of course, but it’s extremely important that we have access to other ways of life, otherwise, we stop evolving as a society, and we become a giant circle jerk in an echo chamber.
There are very few certainties in life, and even fewer with politics. Really, take any “hot button” issue that comes to mind: abortion/reproductive health care, gun control, police misconduct, poverty and government assistance/entitlement programs, marriage equality. Not one of those issues are entirely right or entirely wrong. There are so many shades of gray, so many nuances, so many unknown variables, that there is absolutely no clear cut “right” or “wrong” stance to take on these issues, and more. Yet, we consistently do take these hard, definitive stances. You do, it’s okay. You can admit it. I know I do. Even in the face of evidence, cold hard facts, we are rarely swayed.
The preamble to the Declaration of Independence states:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
That’s it. Those are the only irrefutable “rights” and “wrongs” we have, as a country and a government. This is why we have to exercise our right to vote. We want to, ideally, choose representatives and leaders and lawmakers that, to the best of our knowledge, have our best interests, and the best interests of the rest of our nation, at heart, and we have to place our faith in these men and women, that they will fulfill the duties of that office, doing exactly that: representing us. Well, America, they’re failing. Our representatives are failing. That means we are failing. Don’t like what our country looks like right now? Don’t like what we stand for? Then do something about it.
“We the People” isn’t just a fancy catch phrase. It really means something. It’s time we stood up and reminded those that hold public offices just what, exactly, “the People” want, need, and intend to do to achieve these things. But before we can do any of this, we have to come to some sort of truce. We have to begin walking the paths of understanding, seeking commonalities in our differences, and practicing empathy whenever possible, or we aren’t ever getting anywhere. Five individual fingers are much less powerful than one fist; we’re stronger and better when we’re united. Yes, this means you. Do something. Say something. Be something. Stop letting our government make us casualties of their war.