Thursday, September 27th had me glued to CNN all day. I sat through classes furiously reading the closed captions, had one headphone in at work, and walked to and from appointments with the livestream of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing blaring from my phone. The composed testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the emotional job interview of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and the divisive dialogue of the 21 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee captivated me. We all know how the story ends: after a week-long FBI investigation and a 50 to 48 vote, Brett Kavanaugh took his place as the 114th Supreme Court Justice.
My heart was exhausted and defeated, not unlike November 9, 2016, the heavy Wednesday morning after Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to Donald Trump. I longed for a return to policies that favor people over politics. That feeling has found a temporary home in the hearts of the American people before, but never has set its painful roots as deep as it is now.
The nation watched as our elected officials threw around words like “evil,” “national disgrace,” “vicious,” and “the most unethical sham” with no thought of consequence or impact. The women’s crying, the senators’ screaming, the nominee’s yelling, and the universal blaming all came together to create a wall of polarization and disunity.
According to a Pew Research Center study, American politics have become increasingly partisan in the past 20 years *see photo*. Both sides are swiftly moving away from the moderate center of their politics, and partisan antipathy is deeper and stronger than at any point in the past two decades.
Some say that bipartisan compromise is an American political ideal of the past. I am fully aware that bipartisanship and across-the-aisle compromise is a paragon that American politics seems to be moving further and further away from. Members of all sides increasingly rely on divisive rhetoric and brash language to overpower the other side and gain support. However, we need understanding, cooperation, and teamwork in this nation more than ever before.
In writing this article, I asked various people what they thought was the most polarizing issue in American politics that they wish were looked at through bipartisan goggles. The responses were overwhelming. Gun control, abortion, climate change, criminal justice reform, immigration, sexual assault—the list was endless. One friend asked if he could just say “everything.”
The Wall Street Journal recently published an article titled Voices From a Divided America. The article includes a series of ten videos of people searching for “common ground in an era of polarization.” I watched video after video, moved by the diverse stories of fellow Americans. Each experience was full of hope for the future, a hunger for meaningful and civil dialogue, and a desire to make a change.
In the end, divisive dialogue and partisan strategy defeats the purpose of the political process and discredits those holding political office, both Republicans and Democrats. I echo Abraham Lincoln, who knew a thing or two about bringing people together for a greater cause, when he said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” If Americans do not set aside their differences and come together, and if elected officials do not set aside polarizing politics, this house of American democracy will eventually crumble.
Change may not come from the top down. Change may have to start with you, with your neighbor, or with your community. By voting, getting involved, and transcending party politics in your own life, you can set the precedent of compromise and bipartisanship.
Latest posts by Jayne Edwards (see all)
- How Fashion Has Become the Latest Political F-word - March 12, 2019
- “Never lose hope in the idea or the belief that you can make a difference.” - February 27, 2019
- Politicians and the Twitter Train - February 14, 2019
- There is a Place for You Here - December 10, 2018