Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey / Flickr
By Devin Malone
Arguably, 2016 was one of the most interesting years in American politics due to the distinct presidential candidates and the many controversies surrounding them. What is often overlooked about the presidential race is the overwhelming sense of tribalism that swept the nation. While this is nothing new when it comes to the election season, the political partisanship was more divisive than any other recent election. And with this strong political bias there comes massive problems detrimental to all Americans.
Sadly, third party voters found it disappointing to see how far people were willing to go to demoralize and humiliate their opponent purely due to their political affiliation. Although we should be able to have the freedom to stand with what we believe in, our arguments should remain constructive, rather than devolve into Neanderthal-like mud slinging banter that preaches more political dogmas than a reverend preaches at a Sunday sermon.
In America, the common practice is to vote for a candidate solely based on the “D” or a “R” next to his/her name. And when one side loses, websites like “DisruptJ20,”which advertised protests, calling to disrupt Trump’s presidential nomination, start to form.
The mass scale of these protests almost reached the level of Richard Nixon’s second inauguration in 1973, another period of time in which the United States was politically split due to the ongoing war in Vietnam. In protest of this war, many took to extreme measures by lighting oneself on fire like the Buddhist monk, Thích Quang Đoc.
More recently though, a 69 year old man in Akron, Ohio also lit himself on fire in protest of Trump’s Inauguration. A rather extreme and drastic measure that the protester took was ultimately affected by partisanship to his political ideology.
Yet with all of this, people tend to rely solely on their biased media outlets which only represent their party the way they want to be viewed. This itself has helped raise the popularity of the more politically divisive “Alternative News.” Two of the most popular media outlets for both liberals and conservatives, The Young Turks and Infowars, has become echo-chambers for either side of the political spectrum to help validate their own opinions.
But the political favoritism does not end there, as third party voters themselves were also under fire because they “cost Hillary the election” by “throwing their votes away” which is simply untrue. Even if they were forced to vote between the two, they are more right-leaning independents than they are left-leaning independents.
One should keep in mind that back in the early years of the 1900’s, political partisanism led to the rise of bitter resentment and hatred among the European nations, which was capped off with the execution of the Austrian Archduke, Franz Ferdinand, by the 19 year-old Bosnian-Serb separatist Gavrilo Princip, resulting in the start of the first World War.
If this is the case, we must learn from the mistakes of the previous year. We should shed our political bias and the demonization of those who have differing views from us and instead listen to these views, and critically challenge them, along with our beliefs. Questioning and bettering ourselves as Americans, rather than ripping ourselves apart like our ancestors, who too fell victim to the strong tides of political partisanism that caused the Civil War between the Union and the Confederacy. If we do not learn to bridge that gap which partisanship leaves behind, we will never progress as a nation or society.
As the saying goes, “A house divided in on itself cannot stand.”