Lack of bipartisanship continues to cripple the political system
Published: Monday, September 3, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 3, 2012 22:09
Although President Barack Obama campaigned on a platform of bipartisanship, the constant conflict both sides experience from politicking creates a barrier between political parties, crippling our political system and the American people.
It’s no wonder why so many individuals are uninterested in politics.
It is a nasty, negative and disheartening game. Expensive ads and clever phrases like “Obama the Terrorist” or “Romney the Job-Destroyer” often lead to great entertainment, but they don’t help anyone understand issues or become better informed.
Earlier this year, an anti-Gingrich Iowa ad said, “Gingrich exaggerates, dropping Reagan’s name 50 times. But in his diaries, Reagan mentions Gingrich only once.” This sounds more like a middle school student representative poster than a presidential campaign ad.
Aside from the slew of misinformation that many voters take as fact, this type of campaigning wouldn’t be as big of a problem if at the end of the day the hostility was just part of the election pregame and died down as soon as representatives entered their respective offices.
Sadly, this is not the case.
In today’s two-party system, we have plenty of room for accusations and antagonism, but almost no room for listening or even an attempt at bipartisanship.
In an ideal world, the two-party system would encourage many people of different backgrounds and viewpoints to come together to make decisions that would best benefit the most Americans. Now doesn’t that sound nice?
But politicians from every end of the political spectrum have convinced a large number of the American people that it is “those other guys” who are making our country worse.
“They” made our economy bad and “they” intend to keep it that way to help the wealthiest Americans. But this is nothing new. Mudslinging has always played a role in politics. Look at the 1828 presidential election. John Quincy Adams’ party accused Andrew Jackson of murder when, as a known war hero, he had executed militia deserters.
Though we still experience the same type of mudslinging almost 200 years later, the general understanding of how to deal with witnessing this game has not developed. We still act like middle schoolers watching a fight in the hallway.
Unfortunately, no one has stepped up to the role of hall monitor.
Negative campaigning teaches nothing other than dissatisfaction and pessimism. And when we accept what we are told by these ads and speeches without questioning or fact checking, we buy into a world where Obama is a terrorist and Romney really enjoys firing people just for the heck of it.
Our job is to vote—and yes, I mean everyone needs to go vote—for candidates based on not only what they stand for, but on their relative aggressiveness.
It is difficult for two people of opposing viewpoints to work together if both are too attached to their ideas. Fighting for what you believe in is fantastic and certainly has its place, but not when that fight hinders progress.
The issue at hand is not what party you are affiliated with, whether or not you approve of the job President Barack Obama has done, or even whether or not you like Romney or Ryan.
The issue is that the American system of government is based off of the assumption that two differing parties with many differing ideas can come together somewhere in the middle to create reasonable solutions to important issues.
This assumption does not support tricking Americans into voting for whichever politician threw the most woodchips in a playground fight.
While at Brandeis, we are surrounded by not only intelligent people, but also people that like to question. After all, our motto is, “Truth, even unto its innermost parts.” Our job, then, is to question the practices of leaders who use mudslinging to distract from real problems.
Here, we know better. Though a largely liberal community, we don’t get angry when a fellow Brandeisian disagrees. The healthy conversations about important political issues never get personal or inappropriate, and they certainly don’t sound like a couple of five-year-olds arguing over whose turn it is on the swing-set.