Fighting political extremism

Extremism has emerged as an underlying threat to American politics, which shines through the democratic processes of the United States. Opposing political parties are often each other’s ideological critics as they fight to execute their contrasting beliefs. In recent decades, it has become increasingly rare for the two major political parties to find harmony in ideological issues. Not only are there varied voter interests by party, but diverse voter concerns can disrupt unity within the party. With the emergence of new independent parties, which often transcend into the beliefs of a major party, the United States is more divided than ever. A recent development reflecting a party’s extremism is the revocation of Kevin McCarthy’s Speaker of the House role on Oct. 3rd. The harmonious disagreement regarding the decision among most Americans made it clear that far-right Republicans had crossed a limit. This decision was the first instance in history in which the Speaker of the House had their position revoked, which begs the question of whether this was completely necessary. 

In the eyes of eight of McCarthy’s own party members, this decision was imperative to “stand up for governing over grievance,” in the words of Republican Representative Matt Gaetz. The division within a political party represents the modifications undergone by the two major ideological parties. Generally, each party has transformed into two branches: one aligned with more traditional ideological values and another considering new extremes. These divisions occur beyond leadership roles, particularly in the ongoing policy debates, such as the controversial issue of police funding. Another instance of disagreement within a political party is the debate regarding the police force. Following the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, the Democratic Party experienced transformations regarding the role of law enforcement.  

Democrats that generally aligned more with the leftist ideologies, which often receive influence from Democratic Socialism, believed it was crucial to defund the police department, thereby reducing the amount of crime stemming from the structural oppression of the police force. Leftists received criticism from traditionally liberal Democrats, who argued in favor of extended police training to limit the amount of hate crimes. This in-party conflict made it nearly impossible to reach an agreement.

While ideological parties have historically experienced outliers or policy debates, the current prominence of divisiveness in recent years represents the excessive extremism of American politics. Although each American is entitled to their personal stances, at times, putting aside these differences for the country’s progression is the morally correct decision. One example of extremism resulting in regression is the infamous 2016 presidential election results. The two major party candidates, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump competed with a third candidate, Bernie Sanders, who initially ran as the Democratic Party’s nominee. Thousands of Americans continued to show their undying support for Sanders, writing in his
name as a presidential candidate. 

Although Clinton won the popular vote, write-ins for Sanders and a few other third-party candidates resulted in her electoral loss. Write-ins allowed Donald Trump to prevail in the electoral vote, which reigned his presidential victory. Although it is understandable to disagree with certain viewpoints on a candidate’s agenda, voting for outside candidates and splitting up electoral votes causes further political digression. Many of the same voters who wrote in Sanders as their presidential candidate (or Kanye West, for that matter) were heavy critics of Trump’s efforts to set
the United States backward. 

The phrase “vote for the party, not for the candidate” is often referred to amid election season. This principle is crucial to consider in the midst of political radicalism. In this age where climate change is rapidly progressing and millions of Americans are without fundamental healthcare, voting for values rather than a single candidate will encourage long-term growth and continuity on social issues. Collective decision-making ultimately strengthens American democracy, opening a gateway for further developments. Fostering unity among political ideologies, regardless of division, is a crucial goal that all American voters and parties should work toward. 

Disagreement and debate can encourage political parties to reach a middle ground on issues, especially ones that are imminently concerning. Additionally, drifting away from extremism and making more efforts to unite can lead to a more harmonious future. Political leaders’ shared commitment to the betterment of the United States leaves room for debate; instead of interpreting this disagreement as a negative aspect, it should be a defining factor for improvement and compliance. 

With the United States’ formation launching on the ideals of democracy, American voters should use their voice to truly initiate harmony.