The election is over. Some voters are celebrating, some licking their wounds. Election season naturally pits red against blue and pulls people into their respective corners of the political ring. The irony of partisan elections is that they artificially insinuate that people with differing political ideologies are inherently different from each other. In truth, we are all much more alike than one might think.
Putting political parties aside, the reality is that most people actually agree on most issues — not only here in Utah, but also across the nation. Leaving behind the partisan rhetoric and focusing on the issues allows people to come together to find common ground and create solutions that represent a majority people. Not the white majority or the Republican majority or any other majority defined by education, socio economics, faith or other, but rather simply a majority of all of us mixed together.
This ability to come together is dependent on a certain level of civility — something that has fallen farther and farther out of the political scene, particularly at the national level, to the detriment of our ability to listen to one another and learn from each other. A loss of civility also harms our democratic process and institutions by fueling extremism and placing party above issues and solutions.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
1. Check out these articles below about overcoming hyper-partisanship and why civility matters to preserving and strengthening democracy.
2. Make a commitment to practice more civility in your interactions with family, friends, neighbors and even strangers on a daily basis. You might be surprised to learn more about the perspectives of other who believe differently than you do and how their ideas can inform your own.
Articles on hyper-partisanship and the need for civil discourse
- The Atlantic: “How People Like You Fuel Extremism” by Conor Friedersdorf, June 27, 2017. “But for all the benefits of agreement, solidarity, and spending time with like-minded people, there is compelling evidence of a big cost: the likeminded make us more confident that we know everything and more set and extreme in our views… Conversely, if we can harness the strengths of viewpoint diversity, our collectives can reach better decisions. We can, in fact, be better off together than we would be apart.”
- FiveThirtyEight: “Democrats Are Wrong About Republicans. Republicans Are Wrong About Democrats.” by Perry Bacon Jr., June 26, 2018. “‘The danger of mega-partisan identity is that it encourages citizens to care more about partisan victory than about real policy outcomes…'”
- Unite America: “Our Lack of Civil Discourse Encourages Hyper-Partisanship” by Mike Dixon, October 21, 2017. “Hyper partisanship has become the norm in today’s society because we the people no longer are able to engage in polite civil discussions over different points of view.”
- National Review: “The Problem With Partisan Faith,” by Jim Geraghty, September 16, 2016. “It’s not a formal religion, but partisan devotion so deeply affects its adherents’ thinking, morality, actions, and reactions to world events that it might as well be a religion. Each passing political cycle makes it a little clearer that partisan faith has nothing to do with policies and issues.”
- Vox: “We need political parties. But their rabid partisanship could destroy American democracy.” by Lee Drutman, September 5, 2017. “But for years now, we’ve been retreating into our separate tribal epistemologies, each with their own increasingly incompatible set of facts and first premises. We’re entering a politics where the perceived stakes are higher and higher (“the fate of our nation lies in the balance”) that they justify increasingly extreme means. When it is a war of good versus evil, “norms” and “fair play” seem like quaint anachronisms.”
- The Atlantic: “The Threat of Political Tribalism,” by Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld, October 2018. “Americans on both the left and the right now view their political opponents not as fellow Americans with differing views, but as enemies to be vanquished.”