Political Polarity and the Gap of American Politics

November 30, 2011

Political Theory

What About the American Middle?

Since the end of World War II, the Republican and Democratic parties have become increasingly polarized.  It seems that they are now at a breaking point where each are pulling so far apart that they might never come together and agree on anything again.  Politicians need to compromise, but when neither side of a debate will budge, policies go no where.  So, the US is stuck in a stagnant face-off.  Both parties seem to pull more extreme to the left or the right.  The Republicans seems to be especially pulling to the right during the presidential campaign.  Here is the problem: many Americans are not on the extreme end of either party.  Many Americans identify in a more moderate range.  These people do not have representation of what they want.  With so many people under-represented,  there is room for a third party to emerge.

Compromise is the best solution to make the most people as happy as possible.  It takes a brave politician to cross the party boundaries and compromise with the other side, let alone agree with them.  If no one is willing to compromise and speak up for the forgotten middle ground, a third party should be able to represent these centralized views.  However, a viable third party does not seem likely because their ideology and platforms would not be as strong as the polar views of the left and right.  Their ideology would be a compromise of the Republicans and the Democrats, and it seems that no politicians are willing to compromise or even support it.  The Pew Research Center conducted a study and found the proportion of americans that are declared democrats, republicans, or independents.  The three ideological categories are nearly equally divided.


D.C. is Stagnant and is Not Likely to Change Soon

The economy is still hanging in a balance, our sovereign debt has been downgraded and unemployment still remains above 9%.  The deadlock between the Republican controlled Senate and President Barack Obama has proven that neither side is willing to compromise.  President Obama issues more executive orders in order to bypass the Senate.  His jobs plan looks like it will not make it pass Congress, even though it is actually something that both sides should agree on.

To me, a compromise between the two parties seems like a great idea.  Instead of full-swing cutting spending- what the Republicans want- or raising taxes- what the Democrats want- why not a little bit of both to minimize the damage on both sides?  Neither side will entirely win and get what they want.  They are only alienating the middle ground and creating a great game of tug-o-war.  Neither side is compromising on many topics and they remain as stubborn as ever.  I believe that the reason why they are not compromising is because they do not see a consequence of their stubbornness- they don’t see the big picture of what their dogged defiance will cause.  The super committee (half Republicans, half Democrats) last week had a chance to fix a debt problem.  However, the politicians and their stubborn policies got in the way and the super committee failed.  This is a short-term consequence of political polarity.  Long term, there are bound to be more consequences from this struggle.

This raises the question, do you think that there is a problem with the gap in American politics?  If so, what could be done, or should anything be done at all?  Is there a solution to the alienation of the moderate American ideology?



About lmaren

UM student, sophomore, harp performance major, political science minor.

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3 Comments on “Political Polarity and the Gap of American Politics”

  1. erfreed3 Says:

    The author brings up an excellent point in demonstrating perhaps the most internal and ongoing battle in American politics, that being the two-party system. I would have to agree that Democrats and Republicans have become so anti-each other, that they have lost sight of the goal of politics. They have lost sight that the American people have elected them as the leaders of the United States. The purpose of a political party is to promote an initiative that will regulate and/or improve the lives of Americans. Surely, this is not being done as well as it could be. The author brings up a good point, in pointing out that many Americans hold moderate views in politics. Personally, I consider myself moderate and do not identify with either party. If there are many Americans out there that do not hold the increasingly extreme stance of Democrats or Republicans, the two-party system seems nothing but ineffective.

    Due to the history of the two-party system, it is hard to determine how to change. Our current situation, in which we have a Democrat President and a divided Congress, only seems to make matters worse. This is because there seems to be a power-struggle between the parties. As the author writes, it seems as if the parties are not searching to compromise but rather only to resist each other. That is not what many American want out of our leaders. We want to see compromise, not bickering and never-ending disagreement. The thing that gets me is that the two parties can’t even come together to fix our nation’s debt problem. Seriously? What is the point of having a government system that cannot agree on anything? It is nothing but frustration.

    I believe that many Americans feel that the current polarity between the two-parties is a hindrance to our government. This in turn has resulted in the proposal of new innovative ways to elect candidates. One of the most up coming political organizations that offers an alternative to the two-party system is “Americans Elect”. As stated on their website, the purpose of Americans Elect is “to nominate a presidential ticket that answers directly to voters—not the political system”. Basically, what Americans Elect is trying to achieve is to put a nonpartisan ticket on the 2012 presidential ballot in every state in the country. The nomination for the ticket is supposed to be selected by us, the people, not the party-system. Personally, I believe that this is a great idea. On the website right now, there are 2,152,890 signatures. That is a sign that there are not just a few, but many Americans that are fed up with the two-party system and are looking for a change. I think that it is long over-due. The monopoly of politics by the two-party system has hindered the United States. It is not that the party-system does not work, but rather that it does not reflect the views of many moderate Americans. The main problem is that the two-party system does not perform its job as well as it should be doing.

    Check out Americans Elect: http://www.americanselect.org/

  2. ksaukas Says:

    Maybe the gap isn’t as wide as we are sometimes led to believe. From what I have noticed in lectures the professor continually reminds us that while the parties may be named Democrat and Republican or Conservative and Liberal both parties are actually Liberal Democrats in the true meaning of the words. Undoubtedly there are major differences between the two, and these can be seen clearly each election cycle on the major issues that will decide who votes for who (the flavor for 2012 is the economy). But overall on issues of basic rights and capitalism both parties are quite the same (although Glenn Beck uses socialist a lot when describing the Democrats).

    So what is the cause of the gap or the perception of one between the two parties? Two reasons come to mind: The more you disagree with the opposition the more hardcore conservatives and liberals you get while presenting a firm base that independents can attach to, or the gap is created by the media.

    Now I know that sounds like a conspiracy theory but hear me out. Congress actually does a lot of business everyday and most of it is not controversial and that means the two sides get along most of the time. Also nobody cares about ten bills passed about road legislation when there is the one bill that is fought over about the economy. Most people are going to base their vote upon the best economic candidate, and if one party can paint the other party black on that issue then they gain that vote. Thus the infighting ensues and we are left with the gap because this is the only thing media will cover in politics because it is the only thing anyone will pay attention too.

  3. elotis Says:

    Clearly, there is a political polarization problem in this country, and the problems between the Republican-controlled Congress and Obama are not unprecedented. We saw this vehement opposition during the Clinton Administration, after Newt Gingrich and the Republican freshman class came into Congress in 1994, with the full intention of stopping anything that Clinton and the Democrats would try to pass. After years of nasty politics, however, Clinton left his presidency with higher approval ratings because he was able to stand up to these radical Republicans and make compromise. The bottom line is, Obama needs to get tougher. Given that we have seen this in the past, political polarity is never going to go away. Keep in mind, members of the House of Representatives are elected every two years, so they are basically always campaigning. In order to appeal to voters, they need to stick with their party no matter what. In the end, despite the system of checks and balances, the president has the most authority in the government and he can stand up to Congress; it’s just a matter if he is willing to or not.

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