Party Polarization: A Weapon of Mass Destruction

I am the stereotype: the ultra-liberal, hyper-feminist, equal-rights activist, college student. I am the firm believer in safe spaces, the one who can recite feminist theorists, and never passes on the opportunity to point out a microaggression. And for a longer time than I’d ever like to admit, I never passed on an opportunity to ridicule the Republican Party, either. Every pro-life comment was followed by an eye-roll. Every Donald Trump supporter given a look of disgust. And at the mere mentioning of a Conservative, a demeaning, “ew, gross” was thrown their way. To me, Republicans were nothing but close-minded, ignorant, gun-loving, red necks, yet strangely enough I had surrounded myself with right-winged minds for the better part of my life.  

In many of my relationships and friendships, we were the unlikely pair, the cat-and dog, the hot and cold, the hippie liberal and camouflaged conservative. And though I had spent a great chunk of time sharing anti-right Facebook posts, some of the most important people in my life were Republicans, and surprisingly, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Despite my uncomfortable, and ever-blazing fire of rage towards those who fought against gay marriage, and advocated for traditional gender roles, I somehow still loved the voices in my life who screamed out, “being gay is a choice,” and “if you have a penis, you’re a man!” And this isn’t me being self-righteous, or “holier than thou.” I will admit there were many days where my friends’ and family’s beliefs and ideologies took a rather large toll on our relationships. There were even moments where I thought to myself, “Maybe it WOULD be easier if I just surrounded myself with like-minded people.” But I always able to snap awake, and remind myself that I cannot, and will not feed into nightmare that is party polarization.

Sure, it may be easy for me to ally with the right-wing side of the world. After all, I am a cisgender, heterosexual, white woman. But for those of you who ARE a part of the LGBT community and/or outside of the bounds of the white male archetype, I do not blame you for your animosity towards these Conservative minds. If my love, relationships, and ethnicity were put into question, I believe that I too would harbor quite an unconquerable amount of resentment. However, I have to wonder if such a resentment, or such an isolation from all-things republican, is really taking us in the direction us Leftists really want to go. Is there a chance that our unbreakable loyalty to the Liberal identity is hurting us more than it is helping us?

And while I may sound like every other voice that screams “stop with the labels!” Might a shedding of our titles, and bipartisanship alike, be the very solution to our stifling political climate?  To put it bluntly, our dedication to the titles of “republican” and “democrat,” often supersede our dedication to solving the world’s problems. People quick to turn against the opposing side, point their fingers, and cling even more desperately to their own ideologies. But what does this solve? Is stepping further to the left, and shifting more dramatically to the right, really the key to finding our happy medium?

Though moderate middle ground appears to be rather utopic, is it really so distant a dream? In the minds of many, political ideologies have been presented as a black or white, love it or hate it, scenario. But what if the decision was not a multiple choice question, but a buffet—where one can pick and choose the beliefs best suited to us, and our perception of what a “better nation” looks like.

I, personally, do not want be told that I can’t pick a little of this, and try a little of that. Why can’t my liberal views on same-sex marriage coexist with my more conservative views on abortion? And as complex individuals, is it really realistic to suggest that the entirety of the nation’s population will only fit in the two categories of pro-life and pro-choice?

Politics are much too intricate to only have two, rather limiting, “sides,’ so why do we keep deciding, and dividing ourselves, between the two? Is it truly essential that we classify one another by red and blue, republican and democrat, conservative and liberal? Or would we all be better off constructing our own political identities from the ground up, instead of relying on the ideologies that have already been made for us?

Editor's Note: All articles for Her Campus at the University of Utah are the opinions and beliefs of the writers and do not reflect Her Campus at the University of Utah, the University of Utah or Her Campus as an international magazine.

Sources: 1 , 2, 3