United in Our Division: Partisanship in America

I remember making the mistake of logging into my Facebook after weeks of inactivity during the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination hearing. What I originally thought would be mindless scrolling through family vacation photos ended up better resembling a battlefield – with only one side of the fight in view. Countless images of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford were shown including harsh, accusatory captions, the most poignant of which being: “Share if you think she’s lying and paid by Democrats to do it!”

The problem with this particular instance of social media bombardment with fairly jarring and blatantly partial content is not only the fact that it reflects how politically polarized the nation has become with nearly every issue, but additionally how the overwhelming amount of posts from one side can almost completely silence any opposition.

Kavanaugh was seeking a position on the Supreme Court, one which requires rulings and judgement to be based on the Constitution and how it may best serve the nation, not on political affiliations. When South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham addressed only his “Republican colleagues” and expressed an obvious objection to the Democratic party in his tirade during the Senate hearing, it was clear impartiality no longer played a significant role in the Supreme Court.

Today, partisanship is ubiquitous. There are people who will reject others as friends, merely because they’re Republican or Democratic. As human beings, we should be able to recognize good from bad, and not blindly take stances on issues for the sole reason that they align with our party’s views. There should be a recognition and an ability to accept the presence of views which oppose our own. Just because someone believes Dr. Ford was telling the truth in her statement does not immediately deem them a ‘lefty,’ and the same goes for the other side as well. Allowing this idealistic division to separate so drastically has created greater hostility within society, and a deafness to objection, in a way, censoring the other side.

In George Washington’s Farewell Address, published in 1796, he specifically warned future generations of the creation of political parties, believing the idealistic factionalism would separate the nation into groups who only sought superiority over one another, rather than the good of the country as a whole. In recent times, the dissension he predicted has become a reality. Even when this is taken into consideration, there is a certain necessity for political parties, as they allow citizens to exercise their First Amendment liberty of free expression and create a platform through which people can unite in their views, but when these parties are utilized as leverage for job positions or excuses for harmful actions, they become detrimental to the livelihood of our citizens.

In order to recover from this extreme political discord, it’s crucial for individuals to recognize and accept the existence of views which oppose theirs. This could be as simple as watching a different news channel, in order to see how drastically certain news stations alter stories to promote the ideology they affiliate with, or withholding judgements of someone based purely on their political views. Many people are oblivious to the impact partisanship has on day-to-day life, but I get it, it’s agitating when someone doesn’t share the same thoughts as you, so it is a matter of merely tolerating the other side and allowing them to voice their opinions as loudly as you voice yours. After all, this is America we live in, right?

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Katie Hopewell is a Sophomore Political Science and English double major with a concentration in Writing, Rhetoric, and Publication. Katie is from Emerald Isle, North Carolina and spends her spare time playing frisbee for CofC's Women's Ultimate Team.

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