Isn’t it time for the political parties to re-build bridges?
BY NARDINE ELDALIL, STAFF WRITER
The past three decades of democracy research in the United States reveal a turbulent period, considering its relatively short duration in historical terms. It commenced with the triumph of liberal democracy as a preferred governmental system but concluded with the widespread belief in a democratic recession.
While this notion is supported through various counts, it is important to note that discussing a crisis of democracy as a whole may not be entirely accurate, as different democracies around the world face diverse problems and challenges. The United States, however, showcased a rapid separation between the two main parties, having Republican ideologies considered far-fetched and extreme, while the Democratic ideologies were considered the same and perhaps growing.
Political polarization has been a profound force since the 1990s and onward, but the political landscape that has been cultivated in recent generations owes to the multitude of differing opinions that solidified its own foundations. While there is validity in appreciating distinct perspectives within the current democratic society, the gravity of the topic lies in the determination exhibited by individuals who vehemently defend those viewpoints, even at the expense of societal peace.
In terms of the past and upcoming presidential elections, many agreed that Donald Trump’s election success in 2016 was definitely a substantial part of history. The Democratic Party deemed him to be a threat due to his controversial decisions and alleged unethical behaviors, while those who supported him felt that his non-traditional status in the political field would bring about awareness and change to the status quo, as well as economic prosperity while prioritizing the country first in its foreign affairs. This monumental moment in recent US history led the polarization to exacerbate, allowing media to be fragmented, gerrymandering to increase, and a strike in interest groups throughout the nation.
With the upcoming elections, six out of 10 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents believe it is more beneficial for a presidential nominee to stand on conservative principles than having the best chances of defeating Biden, according to PBS News.
The fragmented media contributed to a decline in journalistic standards by encouraging writers to accept inadequate work in the name of volume and repetition, having trouble separating fact from opinion, increasing false dissemination, media bias and censorship. In fact, the media landscape today is characterized by a significant degree of ideological polarization, with various news outlets often aligning themselves along partisan lines.
The prevailing narrative tends to be that liberal channels such as CNN, MSNBC, and The New York Times, lean towards the left, while Fox News and One America News Network are associated with the Republican Party. These media sources often present stories and perspectives that align with their respective ideological biases, leading to what can be perceived as unilateral versions of the news.
While it’s not necessarily “false news” that may be shared the majority of the time, there are substantial issues with information being withheld or taken out of context. The rise of alternative media options also deepens the issue, especially when social media influences and wraps viewers’ minds to influence their opinions or to exacerbate propaganda.
In essence, liberals and conservatives complement each other in the pursuit of societal progress. However, polarization invites vulnerability. The divergent political attitudes in and of itself are a key factor in developing a healthy Democratic discourse, allowing a diverse environment to contribute to idea exchanges and innovative solutions.
But the trend comes concerning when people lose the ability to truly listen to the perspectives of the other party. The perceived opinion that one’s own beliefs and ideas are superior leads to a disregard for alternative viewpoints, and I believe this lack of receptiveness creates an environment where individuals are prone to taking things out of context, misinterpreting or distorting the intentions behind others’ statements. As a result, this distortion starts a hazardous cycle where people are more likely to take extremist opinions and seek refuge in groups that share their viewpoints.
These political storms are a breeding ground for extremism, as the unwillingness to engage in constructive dialogue can hinder societal progress and further polarize communities. The presence of a third or neutral candidate can bring about positive energy and offer an alternative to the binary system prevalent in the United States. The current mindset within each party of “all or nothing” often proves to be counterproductive.
The strength of a power struggle lies in finding a middle ground on common-interest issues, allowing for a more inclusive and effective approach to governance. While a diversity of opinions and conservative voices are crucial in a democracy, the failure to genuinely listen to each other hampers the very essence of the current Democratic ideals.
Is it time to start building bridges? Or will growing polarization forever be the political norm?