Bipartisanship has long been a respected component of American politics.
The ability to come together in times of deep disagreement and divide for the greater good of America is not something we should take for granted or let slip away from our political psyche.
Merrick Garland has been awaiting a senate vote for eight months to replace Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court.
Senate Republicans have stated their position of blocking any President Obama appointee, citing that the next president should be the one to appoint the justice.
This may make sense if it had occurred now, only a couple months until the president elect will assume office.
There could have been an argument made on allowing a president that had just been affirmed by our nation’s voters to decide who would likely spend several decades on the nation’s highest court, handing down decisions that become future precedent in our judicial and legal systems.
However, politics don’t simply stop until January, and these statements made by Republicans were essentially an entire year before President Obama will leave the White House.
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The focus shouldn’t be only on Republican obstructionism of a Constitutional right granted to the executive branch. There is a bigger theme at play, and both parties are to blame for playing in the game of political polarization.
The greater point to be taken away from Merrick Garland’s example is the harm that overzealous partisanship can wreak on our political system and the very ideals of our governmental foundation.
Try to think of this situation in the bigger picture: a political party refuses to follow the explicit processes laid out in the Constitution in the name of protecting their ideology and to prevent working with the “enemy” party.
This is antithetical to the very principles of America.
Our country has thrived when dialogue is open and willing to consider the needs and perspectives of others; and we are willing to compromise and work together for progress.
It may not entail huge, sweeping changes, but incrementalism is another principle that governs our political system.
Our system is designed to resist the influence of radical viewpoints becoming the primary player in what policies and rhetoric are pursued.
The symptoms of reckless partisanship oozed their way into the 2016 presidential election.
The election season has undoubtedly been marked by hatred and divisiveness, whether it was statements from Trump calling Hillary a “nasty woman” or the labeling of Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables” by Clinton.
Not only is this disheartening, but it is counterproductive.
Without the willingness of both sides to work together for the greater good and bigger picture of politics, we lose the possibility of any progress.
No matter who is the ultimate winner tomorrow, we should let the fleeting example of Merrick Garland remind us that staying true to general political principles and to the vision of a united America transcends our deeply held convictions.
I do want my opinions heard and considered by our elected officials.
I want to push for policies that align with my personal beliefs about the world.
However, I want to be able to achieve these goals alongside those who disagree with me a lot or a little.
I am a better American citizen when I am informed by the lived experiences of other individuals in my community and nation.
It is imperative that subscribers of all ideologies stay committed to invoking collective change that isn’t in spite of or against other groups and focuses on overall good for humanity.
Emily Hale is the State Federation Chair of the Alabama College Democrats.
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