Partisanship: the toxic downfall of modern politics

2018. For the most part, the year’s gone rather smoothly. My football team is finally making some signings as well as finishing my A Level exams.

Therefore, it’s a shame that modern politics cannot also boast that it’s had a disaster-free 2018. In both Britain and America, both Westminster and on Capitol Hill, the civility and standards we expect from the inner workings of these respective political systems has come into decline and scrutiny.  Such a thing isn’t new or groundbreaking, but what has led to its rapid re-emergence? Political lightning rods like Donald Trump or Barack Obama? Society’s failure to evolve and progress to tolerance? Contentious issues guaranteed to cause heated debate?

In fact, I believe it to be something else in particular that has damaged the nature of modern politics. And that’s the idea of partisanship itself.  Blaming partisanship may sound ridiculous, the idea that devotion to politics damages it rather than enhances it, but allow me to make my case:

Brexit is an issue that had fractured more British families and friendship groups than what goes in the tea cup first (Not milk. Never milk), and whether Manchester lies in the North of England or the Midlands (they wish they were Northern, far too many ‘Pret a Manger’ and not enough Greggs). Theresa May and the the Conservative minority government have faced the uphill task of delivering the right Brexit best for the British People. The problem is, partisanship does not allow compromises. Brexiteers (infinitely sounds cooler than what they actually are) and Remainers each vie for a Brexit best fitting to their demands and perception of what Society will benefit from.

At the end of June 2018, US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Court, ending a 30 year tenure. Kennedy, although regarded as being the Roberts’ Court’s ‘swing’ Judge, when making his choice to step down from his position of power implies a conservative bias towards the Republicans. The consequences of this could allow the Court to hold a conservative majority for over a generation. Landmark court decisions like Roe v Wade (1973), which guaranteed women the right to privacy as well as legal and safe abortions.  One fear amongst more liberal Americans is that partisanships and towing the party line could see more biased, Conserative decisions made from a body designed to be neutral and incredibly influential.

There’s a certain irony in that partisanship and belonging to a political group is usually designed to promote stability and fair, equal debate. When in reality, we see groups being stubborn and deliberately non-compliant with political opposition in order to promote their own ideals. This is of course a major hinderance to democracy and Society as a whole.

Of course, we can’t scrap political parties or outlaw co-operation between similarly ideological groups. But when the modern times call for change and action in the wake of events like Brexit, mass shootings, major elections etc, then partisanship acts more of a detriment to proceedings than it does a benefit. That is truly toxic.

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