The problem with partisanship

elephantdonkeyfight

One of the key tenants of the Wake the Vote program is exploring ideas of bipartisanship and collaboration in government. As a cohort of students actively engaged in politics, being able to have rational and calm policy discussions with those who differ in party affiliation was difficult even for us. On a larger scale, the tension between Republicans and Democrats is magnified and under intense scrutiny and dissection in the media. Politics can really sometimes feel like pageantry, and it has been personally frustrating for me to watch how partisanship can play into every decision made in government. Especially in this election year, I have really grappled with questioning the merit of the current two party system. As someone who is really entrenched in my own political views it is difficult for me to imagine a scenario where I would be willing to compromise my own beliefs in order to make collective progress. On the other hand, I find myself increasingly frustrated that lawmakers remain so loyal to partisan ideals that they refuse to collaborate and make changes on systemic issues that are hurting our country. It comes across as petty and childish, and it’s one of the symptoms of a deeper problem of inertia in the government. All of the dynamics around partisanship were evident during my time at the RNC. In conversations with many delegates and attendees, it became clear to me that most (establishment) Republicans don’t want Trump as their nominee. I heard many stories of voters who felt that the primary process somehow went off the rails and was beyond their control. Barely anyone told me that Trump was their first choice candidate during the primary process-in many cases he ranked dead last. What was clear to me is that despite the fact that they may not support Trump or what he has presented as his values, they are committed to the Republican party. Party loyalty trumped even the most basic consideration of actual policy preference. One delegate said she didn’t even actually believe Trump was conservative, but she was going to cast her vote for him only because he earned the Republican nomination. At what point do we stop to consider that when we put the needs of the party before our own, we only end up hurting ourselves? Partisan loyalty may be helpful in getting a large group of people to align around a set of shared core values, but it can be detrimental to the health of our democracy. When voters are willing to ignore their own convictions for the sake of staying in line with a political party is when partisanship becomes a problem.

Erica Jordan

 

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