CP editorial: Partisan politics leads to gridlock in Congress

Democrats and Republicans are fighting head to head, and both sides claim to be what’s best for the American people. Partisans on both sides are so mad at each other that nothing gets done in Congress.

A prime example of this was when the government shut down in December 2018 and didn’t open again until January of 2019. Lasting 35 days, this was the longest shutdown in American history. With each side blaming the other, who was really at fault? I say both sides were to blame.

With each day that passed, both sides grew more and more extreme, claiming that the other party’s agenda would destroy the nation. Any issue this nation faces, whether it be climate change, immigration or health care, has at least two very different approaches. But what if there are more than two ways to handle national policies?

By having two extremes, national issues become over simplified, and when both sides refuse to budge, nothing gets done. Extremely radical ideologies are harming the nation, and the American people are paying for it.

Having the mentality of “us” and “them” makes it easy to demonize the other party. This is the psychological phenomenon known as groupthink.

“Group thinking causes us to act irrationally and uncooperative, because we are more concerned about conforming with our group instead of thinking intelligently for ourselves” according to blogger and creator of The Emotion Machine, Steven Handel.

This groupthink in politics creates the division we see today. While lots of people want to blame the politicians, I don’t think it is that simple. After all, it’s the American people who put these politicians in office by voting for them.

Blind partisanship doesn’t encourage voters to think for themselves. People need to know why they support a candidate, instead of looking for the D or the R next to the name on the ballot.

In George Washington’s farewell address, he warned against the dangers of political parties.

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion,” he said.

So how do we avoid this political divide?

We don’t need to have the same ideas and values. Diversity is good and should always be welcomed. We need to learn how to find a happy medium and have civil conversations with people who have different ideas from us. If politicians could do better at finding a middle ground, a lot of the issues we are facing today could be resolved.

More bipartisan bills should be introduced in congress. One example of a recent bipartisan movement is the First Step Act, which received support from both sides of the aisle, and was signed into law this past December. This is a step in the right direction. Negotiation and compromise are possible. I am tired of politicians being more loyal to their party just to get re-elected.

As a voter, I will take the responsibility to not vote for the radical politicians who would shut down the government just for loyalty to their party, instead of working to find a solution, and I hope more will do the same. It’s time for the legislators who want to get things done to roll up their sleeves and get to work.

The extreme political polarization we see today is dangerous. Bring compromise back to congress. After all, united we stand, divided we fall.