Bipartisan Polarization: Too Much To Bear?
Updated: Mar 26
America, land of the partisans, home of constant gridlock. Once there was consensus in Washington, and compromise was commonplace. People were not moderate in their convictions, but there was always room for deliberation. Today, politics has gotten in the way of good governance, and the American people suffer for it. It is no wonder that trust in government is at an all time low, and invoking Washington has become a common parlance for corruption, stagnation and kludgeocracy. To restore faith in American institutions, the history of divisive politics first must be reexamined.
On the Right, the polarization really started with the Republican primary between Robert A. Taft and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Though Eisenhower won the nomination and would go on to become President, Taft's campaign would become the first far right challenge to what would be known as the "Eastern Establishment" within the Republican Party. During the Eisenhower Administration, America experienced the Red Scare, brought on by Joseph McCarthy. The issue with polarizing events is that they are not always wrong, and as it turns out, McCarthy was correct in his accusation of Soviet subversion (later declassified by Soviet documents). Still though, his radically anti-Communist stance, no matter how justified, only served to further widen the chasm between the far right and center right wings of the Republican party. This divide came to a head when Barry Goldwater won the Republican nomination, to the protest of the moderate Nelson Rockefeller, who gave a speech against extremism during the Republican Convention, to which Goldwater responded with "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." The polarization within the Republican Party would continue as the far right would exploit the Watergate Scandal, ride the Reagan Revolution, be outraged at Bush Sr.'s "Read My Lips" proclamation, be led by Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, succumb to the Tea Party, Sarah Palin and eventually elect Donald Trump. Regardless of each instances' merits, the polarization of the Republican Party has dragged America with it.
On the Left, polarization was seemingly far more grassroots with the dawn of the New Left, but with declassified Soviet documents, evidence of foreign subversion has come to light. The Hippy and Free Love Movement, militant racial justice groups like the Black Panters, and the anti-war protests against Vietnam culminated in a radical shift within the Democratic Party. New Deal Democrats soon found themselves pushed out of their party and fled to the Republican Party, though they would soon find that it has been usurped by radicals of a different sort. The Soviets seeped their claws into academia, the media, and Hollywood, all of which were viciously attacked by McCarthy but never heeded. Eventually those foreign agents would have proteges to take up the mantle of various social justice projects, the latest being identity politics. No longer were people capable of seeing themselves as only Americans, an achievement long fought for in the face of the "hyphenated-American", but now people were members of tribes that superceded the importance of our shared civic community. What this led to was an embrace of cosmopolitan globalism, which by it's very nature, meant a contempt for national ideas. This project to undermine American identity sowed distrust within not just Middle America, which tended to be conservative, but also among moderate Democrats who wanted to see progress for a country that they loved rather than to undermine and scorn as the far left does. This progressive mentality of social justice created an atmosphere where democracy is only legitimate insofar as it serves the far left agenda. Whether it is on the debate over school prayer, abortion, gay marriage, or any other issue, the far left have shown an unwillingness to allow the people of each state to decide for themselves the kind of rules they would like to live under, and instead turned to the federal courts to impose their way of life on everyone else who disagrees. When there is outrage among the masses, the far left media with the help of academia, will lead an onslaught against their detractors, utilizing identity politics and slander to silence and shame the opposition. The far left have thus become entrenched in such a way that it eats at civil society, while also infecting our politics with a level of partisanship not seen before.
So where does that leave American politics today? It leaves America with two parties that are unwilling to govern or even compromise with the more moderate wings of their parties, nevermind with each other. It leaves America with a birther movement that questioned a president's eligibility on racial grounds, a drawn out fiasco of false accusations of collusion with Russia, the prolonging of a Supreme Court vacancy until it can be filled by a member of one's own party, an impeachment trial shamed by politics in the place of justice, and a government unwilling to pass a bill to aid American workers during the biggest pandemic in a century so that the other party looks bad. America is in deep trouble. We cannot survive the divisions of this cold civil war. If we want to have a country that we can be proud of again, one that is strong, open, virtuous and free, we have to stand up for the values that made America. The vast majority of Americans are not extremists, and though contemporary media and technology makes it easy to become passive spectators to the blood sport that has become American politics, now, more than ever, is the time that the silent majority speaks up. There have been great strides in good government in the past. The passing of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, confronting the Gilded Age monopolies with antitrust legislation, the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, countering the Soviet empire, and much more. It is the hope of The Daily Wave to inform, inspire and involve Americans in the great project of restoring our republic, and that begins by fostering compromise, consensus, deliberation, civility and free speech, or in other words, reaffirming who we are as Americans.