By Alexandria Krause, Contributor
It is amazing that such a diverse nation, with citizens from all over, with differing values and priorities, has produced a government that has essentially been reduced to only two parties. Each complicated issue is seen as black and white. Over the past couple of decades our affairs have become partisan to the point where it is difficult to see any middle ground.
This election is no different. To be a strong candidate, it seems, the only means to success is to stand on the furthest side on the right-to-left spectrum. Parties fear for their future if their candidate is not a powerful enough representation of their beliefs. We have begun an inter-party conflict so intense that we forget that we are all still playing for the same team. What partisanship brings in solidarity it takes away in productivity.
Having differing political viewpoints is important. Many of the best solutions arise from the teamwork of those who see things as opposites. The problem here lies in the fact that with so much argument, we forget the context. No longer are our parties seeing things from different sides and working to find a compromise, but as separate entities that are competing in an all-or-nothing challenge. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “I never considered a difference of opinions in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”
I chose to register as Independent. Not because I do not have stable positions or because I am a flip-flopper, but because I do not want to be constrained to one party’s beliefs and I assume good intent from both sides. In productive decision-making it is necessary to see clearly all view points to understand the given issue and to tread forward cautiously with well-informed information.
We are in a pivotal spot as Americans where the decisions we make as a nation affects the world as a whole. Our stance on issues and the way we operate our democracy is a global political model. We must stand as a nation united, not separated by politics.
Now it is our generation’s turn to take over. The “our government will fix it” answer to problems will no longer suffice. We are our government and I hope that we develop our opinions thoughtfully and realize that as the keys are turned over to us, we are operating very important and very delicate equipment. We must be proactive and accountable for our country in order to foster it into a strong new era.
It is critical that we understand our values-to remember that with all of the information we are given everyday, we must also take our principles into consideration. Politics are decided by a majority rule, but we must stand for what we believe. Our opinions need not be based on popular consensus.
In our heterogeneous society, not all decisions need to boil down to two parties where everything within the group is decided and agreed upon. In America, individualism is something that is not only respected, but also embraced.
As Americans, we have the opportunity to do something about the policies in our government. If we believe we can make things better, we have the ability to do so. If not in office, we still retain the responsibility to vote for officials provided by and for the people. It is our duty to educate ourselves, in a nondiscrimination way, on the interests that arise and the policies enforced. While many decisions may be under time constraints, and while hindsight may be twenty-twenty, at present we must take the time to develop the character and principles to be intelligent decision-makers for the good of our country.
Loyalty to one party provides little room for diversity. It is offensive that we reject the opinions of those who change their minds, seeing their thoughts as weakly formed and timidly represented. It is important that we look at the ability to see beyond party bounds as a strength. We must remember that sometimes the right answer changes, and a change of mind may be an evolving paradigm.
I am an Independent because I would like to see the next generation of government work together. I would like for our debates to become discussions. To accept that either side may have some merit and remarkable things can happen when we begin to open our minds. We have an opportunity in the coming years to raise the interest of the Independent vote. The possibility to elect officials not based on how well they campaign, how much money they raise, how far to one side they lean, but based on quality leadership and the spirit of compromise and American values.
This November when we vote, it is important to remember that the black and white, or red and blue of politics can be dangerous. The old adage remains that united we stand, divided we fall. If one party has to win and the other loses, don’t we all lose?