In his farewell address in 1796, President George Washington once warned in the danger in the divisiveness that is the two-party system: “You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heartburnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection.”
More than two hundred years later, our nation’s government has only gone on to follow what our founding father once warned of – a nation of bipartisan dissenters.
During the last decade, the United States has seen some of the harshest criticism against any American president through George W. Bush’s administration. At that point, left wing liberals spearheaded disapproval of the president and the then scandal-laden Republican Party. With the election of President Barack Obama came promises of the end of bipartisanship and the creation of a more unified government made for the people.
However, more than eleven months after the election that the lines of division become more apparent with pundits bleating over our television sets and even mudslinging relating to this week’s elections. Although change was promised on behalf of the president and his administration, the only dissent has reversed from Democratic criticism of the GOP to the other way around. It begs the question at this point as to whether or not unity can be achievable within our supposed union.
Through last year’s presidential election, the Republican Party was given a message that in order to attract a majority of the American public they must have a more moderate stance as to today’s issues. As well, the GOP has a golden opportunity to create a new face and image for their party. Eleven months later, supposed new representatives of the Republican Party have included everything from the inept to the unreasonably offensive.
Case in point, last Tuesday was Election Day for governors, state legislature positions and mayors across the country. As with all election campaigns, candidates sought to receive support from a number of qualified organizations and high ranking people in the political establishment. Some candidates received the endorsement of figures such as Andrew Young or Jesse Jackson. Others were honored with the endorsement of Alaska’s own Sarah Palin. In such an example, Palin supported dark horse conservative candidate for New York Congress Doug Hoffman, and soon afterwards witnessed a surge in popularity (although he eventually lost the election). This surge along with Palin’s “rogue” policies led analysts and political columnists to tout her as the “GOP establishment.” However, is it really a good idea to bring in a woman who according to a CNN research poll that 71% of Americans believe is not qualified to be president.?
Even worse is the idea of a conservative extremist fulfilling that role as well, such is the case of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly, who currently make up the triumvirate of presidential condemnation present in today’s media. If anything, their actions and words can only be reduced to fear mongering or even extremism, a practice even RNC chair Michael Steele disapproves of. However, these people still continue to dominate the otherwise soft right-wing voice, making any possibility of inter-party healing even possible.
Despite low voter turnout, the elections still made a positive step amongst the political turmoil in America today with the Republican representatives clinching wins in states such as Virginia and New Jersey. Although it is right for the GOP to change face in order to appeal more to the American public, it as well should not mean that the political affiliation should be looked at as a stigma, especially from the Democratic Party. Yet, elections across the country have been marred with finger pointing to what political affiliation a candidate is. Does it matter?
In the end, the only way the U.S. can move in a positive direction is to work together in a cohesive, productive way. The aim of government, as George Washington once preached, is to reflect the needs of the American people. Thus, we as citizens must look at a candidate for what he or she can do for our country and put energy into actually listening and making a difference.