Bipartisanship is not an act of treason, but recently it sure feels that way. As America becomes more polarized, compromise is dying off. Our government is based on collaboration, but political polarization is threatening the very roots of our system.
The idea that the opposing political party is incorrect is a growing sentiment among voters. Worse, any true understanding of the opposing party’s ideals is diminishing among the average American.
In an interview with NPR, Lilliana Mason, an associate professor of political science at Johns Hopkins’ Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute, explained that “20% of Americans are willing to say it’s at least a little bit justified to engage in violence against people in the other party.”
Although the rise of activism within one’s political party can boost the number of active voters, such increased activism can also lead, in extreme cases, to events such as the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Events like that ruin our chances of making good compromises. Revisions to proposed bills, in the form of riders or amendments, often contain outlandish stipulations that have been added to the reasonable ones. And these additions often have little correlation to the original bill’s topic.
Inherently, compromise is good for us. Former President Barack Obama once noted, “A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music. Everybody can recognize it. They say, ‘Huh. It works. It makes sense.’ ”
Whether you agree with the former president’s policies, he makes a great point. Good legislation isn’t rushed, but it also doesn’t take years; it upsets some when it is passed, but it helps the majority.
Collaboration in the government is good for the majority. It shouldn’t be seen as evil or as betrayal, because there is a difference between creating legislation for a party and creating legislation for a people. Politicians and legislators should think of people who are being affected by law and see other politicians as people, not enemies.
So, while enthusiasm and patriotism are valuable traits, being wise and thinking logically about situations are the preferred ways to enact policies. Politicians should be stepping back more often and looking at the world they are crafting, and they should have more on their calendars than their own agenda.
Camden Clapper is in the 12th grade at Conestoga Valley High School.