Since the most recent presidential election, a social divide among Americans has become more noticeable than ever. The Democratic v. Republican debate runs further than history and beyond Nov. 8 2016, seeming to have taken a role in relationships across the nation.
“I think the notion of party policy might be outdated for our system and divides us as a society, but that’s democracy,” said California State Senate Henry Stern.
The party policy is not mentioned in the United States’ constitution, yet it plays an important role in U.S. government. This concept began to evolve over the ratification of the Constitution, known as the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. Many wonder if this concept has become a destructive role in government.
“Politicians need to stop thinking about what is liberal or what is conservative and start thinking about what is right and doing something about it,” said junior George Murray. “Why do we need to debate and make one extreme, final decision when we can compromise and make as many people happy as possible?”
In George Washington’s Farewell Address of 1796, he warned about the “baneful effects of the spirit of party.” When Washington retired from his presidency, the political parties became a permanent fixture in the United States government. As time progresses, so does the nation in its values causing positive changes to be made, including the abolition of slavery. The United States has progressed and united over time, however, since more recent elections, some believe that haste between political parties has evolved as well.
“On a day-to-day level, political beliefs should not be the main topic of conversation. At the end of the day, we have to be able to coexist and understand that not everyone thinks the same way,” said sophomore Gianberto Ridino. “This is where a problem commences.”
In a nation consumed by nearly 48 percent Democratic voters and 44 percent Republican voters in Nov. 2016, according to statistics by the Pew Research Center of US Politics and Policy, political conversation can be widely controversial. In the 2016 Presidential Election of Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump, debate across the nation was sparked, creating politics into more of a personal matter than ever before.
“The misconceptions are very simple, Democrat – good, Republican – bad.” said Steven Michael, 42. “The misconception is that only one party is good and the other stands for not only everything that is bad today but that is historically bad.”
Due to the president’s reputation as “misogynistic and racist” thanks to his public words and trending tweets, it has become difficult for many new voters and Americans in general to understand how one, even as a republican, could support such a public figure to represent the United States as a nation.
“I believe America has been divided for centuries, however it is more obvious now due to social media,” said junior Christine Aghjayan, “What most people don’t understand is that many are too scared to voice their opinions due to the backlash they might receive. Many of my republican friends are too afraid to say anything because of the hate that others will give.”
According to Allsides.com, the term “Republican” is defined on the economic side as, “someone who is looking for lowered taxes (especially on the upper class), for less regulation of business, and for the decentralization of many government functions,” and republicans’ social views being are defined as upholding a “more orthodox Judeo-Christian view of morality and social order.” For example, topics such as questioning or opposing gay rights and same-sex marriage is oftentimes considered when being labeled “Republican.”
“The party policy becomes confusing for the Americans who tend to be more conservative when it comes to economic issues and more liberal when it comes to social issues and are technically grouped into the independent party,” said Ridino. “The problem with that is when you have a person like that who cares more about economics than social issues, and they vote for Donald Trump, they are negatively identified as a ‘Trump Supporter.'”
During this era of cultural appropriation, for one to prioritize economics and policy over social issues is oftentimes looked down upon. This is frequently recognized due to President Trump’s controversial tweets and speeches.
(chosen from “Trump’s Worst Tweets”)
Many Americans who do prioritize social issues over policies and economic believe that the current president is a misguided and negative representation of America.
“If you truly believe that Trump will be good for the government, foreign relations, the economy etc., then I can’t be mad about that,” said junior Mia Morongell. “It’s just very hard for me to understand because when I see supporters of Trump, I see people who truly believe such an unprofessional, racist and misogynistic person can be president and is doing good which just makes me mad.”
Democrats cannot be generalized as anti-republican, however many admit that Donald Trump’s controversial thoughts have created a plethora of passionate stereotypes on behalf of the republican party.
“Unfortunately the way Donald Trump has acted has created a negative reputation for the Republican party due to his regressive thinking,” said Murray.
“Because I voted for Trump, people tend to immediately assume that I’m a racist bigot who doesn’t believe in social reform and that I hate Mexicans. Well I do believe in social change and I am Mexican,” said Ridino. “The most interesting to me is that if you go up to someone and strip them of their political identity, most of our values are pretty similar, we all want to be safe, happy and successful.”
The biggest issue that many Americans face when politics play an avid role in conversation, is immediate judgement, regardless of party. For young adults in America, opinions are oftentimes persuaded by other, more vocal political advocates, whether they be from the media, a peer or an authoritative figure.
“To be completely honest, I have felt out-of-place numerous times in my academic political discussions due to the popular and closed minded opinions regarding the republican perspective,” said junior Sara Papakhian. “It’s hard to even get an opinion in when speaking to people who are strictly supporting one party with an entirely closed mind about the opposition.”
In a society where freedom of speech and diverse opinions are constantly emphasized, many are afraid to voice their opinions due to the harshening social divide between political parties, especially in schools.
Aghjayan said, “I blame it on the education system. The system is flawed in many ways but one is that many teachers are liberal and persuade their students to have the same opinions as them. I personally had different political opinions than a teacher and was called ‘lesser of a person’ by that teacher due to my economic/political belief. There should be no bias in schools yet there always is.”
Ridino relates, “If you are a young adult who believes in a conservative mindset, there is nowhere for you to safely exist. Colleges are supposed to be a place of intelligent conversation and free thought, yet when I became more vocal and public about my conservative beliefs, I was completely ostracized by teachers and every single one of my peers.”
The commandment advocates for freedom of speech and belief, but do Americans pledge to this right?
“We want to coach you all to become advocates for whatever it is you’re interested,” said Stern. “It’s not about your party. It’s about your heart.”