Political Polarization Will Not Divide Us

It is our duty to engage in civil conversations and understand that healing our country from intense divisiveness is not only about policy, it’s about being constant advocates for change


Daniel Roman

Youth are left struggling to grow up in a world filled with political vitriol.

Polarization is an identity crisis within the nation which comes from the persistent belief of Americans that we are the best. If we cannot recognize the supremacy we have felt over the rest of the world throughout our nation’s history, how will we be able to address the fierce division within us? Discussing polarization may help, therefore, it is important to reflect upon the times when political parties were not as polarized as they are now, such as in the 1950s. 

“The post World War II era was a time of real agreement between the parties…They were much more moderate. [There were] liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats, and the conservatives and liberals weren’t necessarily Democrats or Republicans. They kind of cross parties…and that really falls apart over time,” history teacher Spencer Schwerdtfeger said. 

During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, Democrats adopted progressive stances and Republicans aggressively opposed civil rights. In terms of civil rights, party division began to emerge because Americans were not united against racism within the nation, and that created division between individual people.

Past Presidents had racist views and promoted policies against equality. For example, President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) had strong racist beliefs, while also supporting educational opportunity for all. Recently, many people have been quick to point out racism by leaders. However, everyone in the nation must actively identify racism and admit that it is wrong, otherwise racism and white supremacy will continue to be accepted. It is the same with political polarization because it will win if Americans do not attack it. 

American media organizations exacerbate polarization in an intensely partisan way and provoke people.

“[News organizations] don’t talk about anything [Trump has] done other than his personality,” history and psychology teacher James Leckey said. 

Having leaders who lead with vulgarity makes it seem like the nation has only ever been a hotbed of internal division. In a time when news companies focus heavily on leaders’ attitudes, it is important to remember that these leaders do not necessarily define the American people. We need to make sure to address racism, homophobia, human rights issues and defunt policies that need to be replaced, especially if our leaders are not addressing these topics tactfully. 

After both the tragic death of George Floyd (2020) and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting (2018), people exercised their rights to protest, speak out and vote for officials who would improve the nation’s policies on gun rights, racism and more. Then in November, the people narrowly elected Joe Biden, with his grand promise to unify the nation. That is progress towards electing a unifying leader, but polarizing issues may be difficult to address in courts and in respecting the Republican minorities in Congress. Outside of policy, people should stop blaming each other and should focus on finding ways to compromise, such as agreeing to wear masks and social distance in order to combat the public health crisis with COVID-19. 

“Does arguing ever make anything else other than the politics better? Typically no…Politics is no different and it can even be worse because it’s such an inflammatory topic and people do feel very strongly about it,” Leckey said. 

Politics cannot be unspeakable – it must be discussed and learned about because our nation’s leaders clearly cannot combat polarization alone.