A Call to Bipartisanship

As the semester comes to a close, I would like to seize this opportunity to emphasize the importance of bipartisanship in the American political system. Recent events like the NC legislature’s undemocratic usurpation of incoming governor’s powers remind me how dangerous political polarization and demonization of the other party can be.

After the GOP Governor’s loss became official, the NC GOP legislature called an emergency session in part to pass legislation that strips the incoming Democratic governor of his state-constitutionally provided powers. Had the situation been reversed, with Democrats undermining a Republican governor, the danger and gravity of this offense would be the same and still highly indefensible to me.

It’s incredibly dangerous to fall into a trap that demonizes the other party. While we may not agree on many policy positions, it is inappropriate and incorrect to claim that all Republicans are ‘evil’ and ‘dumb’, or vice versa. In the big picture, we all desire what is best for the country but we disagree on goals and the ways in which to improve. The passion with which each side argues their positions is a good thing; it reminds us that we’re all passionate about improving our country and making it a great place to live.

Senator Claire McCaskill, D-MO, and Senator Susan Collins, R-ME, respectively. // Photo credit: Boston Globe

Senator Claire McCaskill, D-MO, and Senator Susan Collins, R-ME, respectively. // Photo credit: Boston Globe

Generalizations of any kind are very, very dangerous, including generalizations about members of different political parties. It’s dangerous to assume all or almost all people in a certain group are essentially one way. In this case it’s dangerous to assume all Republicans or all Democrats are ignorant, blind partisans and assume they will act accordingly. We should not expect all politicians to always toe the party line in our political system. We won’t accomplish anything helpful if everyone refuses to compromise with a member of the opposite party. Politicians should try to hold their ground on the issues that matter the most to them and their constituents, but they need to be reasonable and open to other ideas.

We need to talk to each other more, and the majority must be somewhat receptive to the minority opinion, or the minority will lash out. Filibusters will not help Washington’s inefficient image. We need to recognize that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle can have good ideas too, and not just tune them out because our views differ. Sometimes it seems like both sides act as if the other is a monster whose goal is to ruin America, but we need to start acting like we’re on the same team because we all want to see America thrive. Increasing party polarization will only raise tensions and heighten a sense of division among Americans. It’s time to recognize that the opposite side is not “the enemy” even though their policy stances may be different. We are all Americans, and as citizens we all desire peace, satisfaction, and success for our country. Let’s work together to make our country even more extraordinary.

Julie Antonellis