RUFFOLO: United States must move past partisan animosity

Graphic+by+Aminah+Beg

Graphic by Aminah Beg

The United States must aim to move past partisan conflict and divide, regardless of presidential election results.

After 4 hectic years under Donald Trump’s presidency, another election has come and gone. Democrats and Republicans danced their typical dance of clinging to their side and stressing the uber-importance of this election, claiming that democracy as we know it is at stake.

Yet, for many Americans, this election cycle was just another tiring journey of partisan divide and worship. Both parties claimed to be the other’s polar opposite, while still managing to fall into the same patterns of corruption, be it the 2016 Democratic National Convention email leak or abuses in power. Democrats and Republicans often have little defense to their shortcomings and failures other than claiming that they are at least better than the other party. Party loyalty has led to many of America’s problems and its troubled political system. When people have a fierce commitment to protecting their party no matter what,  it can quickly become cultish.

Trump’s opponents are understandable. He is impolite, brash and lies frequently. He often makes poor policy decisions and absurd statements which have led to the mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic, such as doubting its severity and claiming that “it’s going to disappear.” In many ways, Trump embodies America’s worst qualities: materialism and selfishness. For some Republicans, Trump is their champion, and for others, he fails to fit their respectful, professional buttoned-up ideal of a president. 

It is important to understand that partisan foolishness and oppressive policies existed before Trump took office. For example, maltreatment of migrants at the border goes back decades. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, was established under George W. Bush.

Under President Barack Obama, federal immigration enforcement funding reached $18 billion. Republicans and Democrats alike have participated in dozens of oppressive structures and forces. The military industrial complex, an informal alliance between a nation’s military and the defense industry that supplies it. dates back to the 1960s.

Additionally, President Bill Clinton pioneered for welfare reform in 1996, which killed cash assistance programs for needy Americans, increased the amount of cash-poor Americans and abandoned children from poor families.

Ronald Reagan failed to address the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s untilthousands had died, and established Reaganomics, which sought to reduce taxes on the wealthy, reduced wages and led to industries abandoning American workers in favor of them seeking cheap labor overseas.

Regimechange wars, in which the U.S. intervenes in another country’s politics and government, have caused thousands of casualties and contributed to instability of other governments around the world.

Trump is just another symptom of our deeprooted problem of political administrations disregarding the well-being of citizens.

Our two-party system fails to function properly. Instead of worrying about the issues that impact citizens in the country, it seeks to protect the reputation of parties and appeals to lobbyists and corporate donors instead of better representing constituents. But for citizens who believe that both parties fail to act in accordance with their beliefs, they are left on an island. Third parties like the Green Party and Libertarian Party exist, but they have little chance winning the state’s electoral votes. While some refer to voting third party as “protest voting,” many people vote this way because they feel that these parties better represent their beliefs.

Presidential election results are held to such high importance and the fate of our country is always contingent on them because major political parties warp us into believing this is the case. On cable news networks, pundits love to talk about the awfulness of Trump and the Republicans or the evilness of the Democrats without striving to make progress and change. 

If Biden wins, we may get a break from the media’s nauseating obsession with Trump. But no matter what, we must move beyond the juvenile attacks of political parties and aim to reduce the power they hold in society. Nobody should be afraid to call out parties when they are at fault. It must be instilled that no one person or party is infallible. 

People are anxious to see the results of the election, to see if we will endure four more years of Trump or experience a Biden presidency. No matter the results, the country must put aside the partisan tactics that have done nothing but keep us in a perpetual state of divisiveness. 

Above all else, we must realize that our priority and commitment is to people, not parties.

This story was written by Lucia Ruffolo. She can be reached at lucia.ruffolo@marquette.edu