Unfortunately, there is tremendous polarization in our nation today. We also see it in every state, and even within families. While not the entire cause, politics has played a major role in the divisiveness we’re experiencing today.
As a result, we’re unable to make much progress as a society. By definition, when we have polarization, there’s no middle ground. We have no compromise or a willingness to work together for the greater good. We simply want our “team” to win, and we want the other “team” to lose.
Political Party Ideological Differences
Granted, there are significant differences between the two major political parties. For example, the current Missouri Republican Party Platform prioritizes free enterprise, reduced governmental regulations, and electing Republican candidates at all levels. They go on to say that Missourians are better off with Republicans leading both chambers of the Legislature. They advocate for Christian faith traditions and even quote a passage from scripture, not recognizing any other religion in their platform. The Missouri GOP’s platform declares its opposition to any laws, religious regulations, or cultural mores of the United Nations, but casts its full and unwavering support for former President Trump.
By contrast, our current Missouri Democratic Party Platform articulates a very different set of values and priorities. In a piece I published entitled, “Are You a Democrat?” I provided a summary of those values and encouraged readers to consider becoming involved in our party if they share those same priorities. In a nutshell, Missouri Democrats are strong advocates for family farms, ensuring workers are treated fairly, affordable access to healthcare, and our environment. We strongly support equal treatment and civil rights for all Missourians. We believe in crime prevention, reasonable firearm regulations, and a thriving infrastructure system. And finally, Missouri Democrats believe that our local, state, and federal government should be accountable for serving the needs of We the People, rather than of large corporations and big donors.
Differences, but One Team Jersey
To be sure, the ideological differences between the two parties are vast. However, in Missouri and the United States of America, there really shouldn’t be any sides or teams. We should all be working on the same team, and we should be speaking and acting in such a way that will advance our great nation and our great state, not pull them apart.
Important Points to Remember
While it may feel overwhelming and irreversible, here are a few important things to remember about polarization in order to keep things in perspective:
- First, polarization is not unique to the United States. There are many nations that are experiencing this same type of strife, tension, and divisiveness.
- Second, polarization is not a new phenomenon. Throughout history, we’ve seen many instances of discontent, of uprisings, of failure to compromise, and so on. For example, our nation experienced one extreme result that can come from unyielding polarization from 1861-1865 when our country was embattled in a Civil War. Another example relates to what we’ve been experiencing with COVID: During the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, many of the same things happened, where people refused to cover their faces with masks, refused to socially distance themselves from others, and refused to shut down their business. History really does often repeat itself.
- Third, most of the time with great pain comes great growth. In other words, I believe there is hope for greater unity within our country. I also believe we have a wonderful opportunity to learn from this divisiveness and become even stronger. However, in order to do that, we must be honest about what is pulling us apart. We must be able to admit our own mistakes and tell the truth when we’ve been wrong. We must actively and respectfully listen to the views of others and consider what they have to say. We must have open minds and want to learn from each other. We must resist the urge to want to stay in our respective “corners” and simply want to “win” a political game or an argument. If we continue down that path, there will be no winners and our great nation will be weaker as a result.
First and Foremost, We’re Americans and Missourians.
And finally, we must remember that regardless of our color, our socioeconomic status, our gender, or our political views we are all Americans and Missourians, first and foremost. Moreover, we love our nation and our state, and we want to see them thrive. If we can agree on those basic principles, we can build from there. Polarization doesn’t have to become a permanent resident in our lives.