The ongoing debate over which version of democracy is optimal began a long time ago and will likely rage on forever. Ironically, in 2017 it is not our politicians and citizens weighing the pros and cons of the philosophy. The conversation has devolved into an egotistic tug of war between the United States’ two major parties.
If you look back to the previous administration, the Republican-dominated congress stalled the confirmation of President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination. Conversely, you can look to the 2016 election where a Democratic Congress did its best to stifle President Trump with ploys like delaying the confirmation of his cabinet as well as his Supreme Court pick.
There is no confusion as to why Republicans and Democrats do not agree with each other; however, there is reason to wonder why petty efforts like delaying an inevitable cabinet pick or strategically usurping the President’s right to select a Supreme Court Justice have become commonplace in our political arena.
But maybe the fact politics has become an arena is the very issue. Perhaps former President George Washington advised against political parties because he knew politics would become a sport to us where we make strategic moves to put the opposing team at a disadvantage, rather than be critical of each other’s ideas in order to forge the best solution to American problems.
Our politicians ought to be ashamed of themselves, but We The People should scold ourselves as well for not only condoning and endorsing this behavior, but allowing it drive a toxic wedge between us.
Our political leanings have become nothing less than another prejudice in our hearts. We will destroy relationships, beat each other to death and deny contact with people we have never even met based on predispositions towards political ideas.
And as with any prejudice, it is all based on ego.
Because of our own insecurities in understanding the world we live in, we seek out lives that justify our perceived shortcomings and reinforce our best guesses as to the “correct” way to live life.
Extreme partisanship is no different from hating a race, gender identity or sexual orientation with no real understanding of the individual’s character. The only difference is that it is socially acceptable to hate the opposite party.
When we meet people that voted for Trump, we assume their vote as proof enough that they are bad people and we are good because we did not. Likewise, when we see liberal protestors, we assume they are the bad people and pat ourselves on the back for not being “snowflakes” like them. But in the process, we lose sight of their humanity. They are no different from ourselves and are trying to make sense of the scary world around us.
Instead of feeding this vitriolic frenzy, we should strive to remove the need of having a moral high ground over the people around us. This is done by removing ego and raising self-esteem. The only thing you must be wary of is whether your life makes you happy, and whether or not it is hurting others. If this can be said of your lifestyle, you do not need any more validation. If people can convince themselves their existence is good, they no longer have a need for prejudice and society can be more congenial and efficient.
We should be working harder now more than ever to bring the country together rather than tear it apart.
-Carrington is an electronic media freshman