Student Life at International School Bangkok

Political Divide in America: Looking from the Outside In

May 30, 2018

The world we live in today is incredibly divided, whether it be in terms of race, income, gender, age or even ideology. These barriers are normal; we are a divisive species, divide is a contributing factor to war, and look at how many have been fought during our existence on this planet. While these are normal, some cause large problems, they split societies, as well as cut off empathy and understanding. The one I want to talk about is political divide. Politics is a controversial topic, by definition, everyone believes in an idea about the best possible society and the best possible world.

Politics is where people have a chance to attempt to change a society, usually for their own good. People disagree, they argue, and theoretically, they should come to a rational conclusion or agree to disagree. This is where the problem begins. They don’t.  

People are becoming more and more stubborn. According to the Los Angeles times “a decade ago, only about 10% Americans held consistent liberal or conservative views across a broad range of issues.” Whereas today, “that share has doubled, to 20%. An additional 40% of Americans hold mostly consistent views.”

This a large problem. If your views are consistent, due to one reason or another, you may be too stubborn to see the point of view of the other side. This creates a divide, where people’s views begin to change so much that they become polar opposites, where no sides can find any common ground at all and no one is willing to relent. This is not helped by the two-party system, and where identity politics come into play.

For example, you can be black and are expected to be a monolith, expected by your community and your friends to vote democrat. You don’t know any republicans and have dehumanised them and stereotyped them as “idiotic redneck southerners.” Whereas on the other side of the spectrum, you could be a 30 year old white construction worker living in the South, all of your friends are Republican, and everyone you know is a Republican. Therefore, you have demonised Democrats to be “Special snowflakes trying to leech off taxes and screw over the country.”

With this, it is most likely that you will not be open to conversation with the ‘enemy’. You will not try to see their point of view because you have had it drilled into your head by your community. This creates a huge problem, especially with the way the US works and the electoral college. If one candidate gets 49.9% of the vote, but the other gets 50.1%, the entire state and all the points go to the candidate who had 50.1% of the vote. This is not a system of proportional representation and is only fuelled by the poorly created two party system.

In my opinion, there are three ways to fix this. The first being to end the system of electoral college, and instead replace it with a system of proportional votes, where multiple candidates are elected from the state and each needs x% of votes in order to get a seat. This makes it so that if one party gets 36%, one party gets 14% and one party gets 50% ,the party with 36% could get 2 reps, the party with 50% could get 3 reps and the party with 14% could get one rep. This would of course scale up and down depending on the size of the county and/or state.

The second is to influence third parties. Right now you are either a Democrat or a Republican. Both of these represent different ends of the political spectrum and many are socially shunned for not voting for one of the main parties. Many blame the Green and Libertarian parties and say that their votes were wasted, when they could have gone to furthering their own main party candidate.

I argue that while this is true, third parties can stop the divide and if you blame them for Hillary’s defeat, if they were promoted better they could have stopped Trump even in the nominations, but only if they were promoted properly.

Third parties in America could be a solve for divide as they give people much more choice and make it so they are so much better represented. The third idea is to split the country into two parts, with a referendum for which country they want to be in. They would have different leaders and different economies, as well as a possible mutual defence pact, but would be governed differently. This would allow for a more conservative state and liberal state, but ones that would protect each other.

If society continues to go down this path, a destructive event such as a civil war is not only possible but probable. This system already resulted in one civil war and the recent election resulted in 100s of protests countrywide.

Let us know your opinion in the comments below!

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