Why are we obsessed with the idea of red or blue political waves?
In an age when so many people want to be recognized for their differences, why do we become fixated on the concepts of red or blue waves crashing down on the current political landscape during elections?
To most people looking in, it is evident that our present political era is different from any other we have experienced throughout history. While it is clear, looking back, that the polarization we experience today is not a phenomenon of the 21st Century, the way we receive, consume, understand, and act on political news has changed significantly.
Even though people in the United States have different preferences in virtually every aspect of their lives – after all, we have an entire grocery isle just for various brands of bread – for some reason, we appear to have become content with following the lead of a black and white two-party system.
James Madison, one of the foremost founding fathers of the United States of America and the author of the Bill of Rights attached to the U.S. Constitution, wrote several articles in what is now known as the Federalist papers about the implications of party polarization in our newly formed Democratic Republic.
In his writings, Madison describes party polarization as one of the most apparent and present dangers to the soon-to-be-formed United States and could only offer a counterargument to this by saying that he believed that people in the United States would be too different to ever allow for there to be a two-party system.
Madison argued that it would be virtually impossible for people of diverse backgrounds, geographical locations, socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, origins, etc., ever to unite under two distinct party identities (and thus, he believed that one side could never hold an absolute majority).
Unfortunately, Madison could not have been more incorrect. Within a year of the United States officially ratifying the U.S. Constitution, two political party identities (Federalists and Anti-Federalists) began to form. While these original parties no longer exist, we are still left with the two-party identity that they inspired.
While it is abundantly clear throughout modern society that Madison was right about people being intrinsically different across the nation, we have to wonder why people seem to be so willing to put their differences aside to support a two-party system that appears to accurately only represent a small minority of Americans.
Because this system of representation does not seem to be adequately serving the American people as a whole, why do we allow it to become the focal point of our everyday lives?
Often in politics today, because of the polarization we face, things appear hopelessly divided, leading toward inevitable destruction.
Is one side really right about everything and the other wrong about everything?
Is there really no such thing as Conservative Democrats and Progressive Republicans?
Are these terms forever tainted by political rhetoric, never to be used or understood differently?
Instead of primarily focusing on broad issues that are spirited in the systemic development of the United States as a whole, which tend to be non-emotional issues, why is it that politicians across party lines choose to bombard the American people constantly with emotionally charged moral issues that statistically affect a smaller subset of people?
Why must there be a blue wave or a red wave to “save America”? Do Democrats honestly believe that there are no honorable Republicans? Do Republicans honestly believe that there are no honorable Democrats?
The issues we face today are only compounded by the fact that they are driven by two political machines that are ultimately concerned with their own longevity and viability.
George Washington once said, “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people.”
Through these words, Washington paints a grim image of the negative capacity that political parties have.
The two-party system divides people to a massive extent by bottlenecking the flow of thoughts and ideas. We are no longer simply Americans united within our country who have different thoughts and ideas but rather members of competing factions that desire, above all else, to win.
Without a more holistically considerate political spectrum, where many thoughts, ideas, and perspectives are considered, the United States will never grow past the blatant polarization we all seem to dislike.
It is unreasonable for Republicans to believe that the United States could or should always be controlled by Republicans, and it is unreasonable for Democrats to think the reverse.
The United States cannot always bounce between two pendulum ends of either being good or bad simply because of the political parties in power.
At what point do we start voting for people and stop focusing on the political affiliation that comes before or after their name?
The United States experiencing a red wave will never show Democrats that Republicans are right, and a blue wave will never show Republicans that Democrats are.
For the United States to thrive, we must first be able to have forums for open and honest communication that specifically pertain to our government.
We elect representatives to advance policy and lead our government, not to be pseudo-philosophers preaching from the pulpit of the assembly.
For America to reach its potential, we must be willing to step up and lead in our individual capacities and show one another that we are not simply intolerant of one another for their ideas. To do this, we must be willing to look past the color of our respective lenses, acknowledge that no wave will truly solve the issues we are facing in America, and look for something else.