Why Extreme Partisanship Hurts America
There are many reasons that partisanship is destructive. Here are some to consider:
- It discourages the average voter from participating in politics because of the unpleasant hostility and big egos that partisanship supports.
- Extreme partisans are the least rational of participants in the political process. Due to the confirmation bias, partisans have the hardest time evaluating information. They support positions and policies, read information, and are only open to those opinions that support their bias. Partisans are smart but they are the least rational. Their intelligence is used to justify their positions, not for discovering the truth or what policies work best for the country.
- It inhibits politicians from being flexible enough to work with others to actually find solutions to problems.
- It creates an atmosphere of incivility not just between politicians but among others as well. I have talked to families with members experiencing conflicts and divorce due to extreme partisanship.
- Expressions of extreme thinking push those who disagree farther to the left or right. It does not convince anybody who is not already convinced. It benefits politicians who have a strong base and pundits on the left or right like Rush Limbaugh and Bill Maher, but it is bad for the country.
- Reasonable solutions to problems presented by people who have the country’s best interests in mind are drowned out by partisan “outrage”.
- There is a loss of creative, individual thinking. More moderate solutions that can work do not get air time. People with real solutions are not rewarded.
- It has lead a minority to commit violence. This could easily get worse.
The Sensible Middle
Currently, there are more people who consider themselves Independents than there are who identify with one of the political parties. Independents–37%; Republicans–28%; and Democrats–34%. This growth in the number of Independents has been occurring as the parties have become increasingly partisan. These Independents are part of the sensible middle– a large group who are fed up with partisanship and who want our politicians to start solving problems rather than spending their time struggling for power. The number of people who are actually part of this sensible middle is much larger than those that specifically register themselves as Independents. Their are many registered Democrats and Republicans who are moderate and disagree with the extreme views of their party’s propaganda mills.
Actually, the people who are extremely partisan are rather small. This group is led by those who are financially benefiting from this partisanship, such as talk show hosts, political party propagandists, extreme politicians and candidates, bloggers, interest groups, and other public speakers. These people are a slender minority who have an inordinate amount of influence in the U. S. The majority of the extremists are the party faithful. Those who have bought in most to the propaganda of the Right or Left. They are interested in politics and follow all the developments very closely. They see politics as a game that is won or lost and believe that there will be dire consequences if their side does not win. Their fear of losing and letting the “evil” other side gain any kind of foothold distorts their vision so much that they are no longer open to all the information needed to make good policy decisions.
If most people fall into the “sensible middle”, then why do they have almost no voice in modern politics? This website along with the writings of others I have linked to in the “Suggested Resources” page gives some of the reasons for this. Explore the material and find out how you can again have a voice in American politics. It’s our civic duty.