History never repeats itself, only rhymes; Will young Americans address this unspoken divide? Pt.3

by Anthony Beltran

Young voters today express distaste for the two-party system we have adopted. In recent polling by Pew Research Center, de-alignment between the two major parties is reflected with “…interest in having more political parties is higher among younger Americans than older adults…47% say it describes their views extremely well or very well…compar[ed] with 35% of those ages fifty to sixty-four and just 23% of those sixty-five and older”.

However, as much of a majority opinion they may hold, it will take acts of significance to create any desired change. The change that younger generations are looking for may not come into effect for years, decades even. The most important question we should ask ourselves is what can we do today to bring us to our ideal tomorrow?

What if there was a potential outcome of a failure to address a hostile and divided Congress, where could we see this two-party system lead? According to Gordon Heltzel and Kristin Laurin in the Elsevier Public Health Emergency Collection, there are two outcomes we may face: Polarization will be a self-reinforcing cycle that will continue to increase, or Polarization has finally reached its apex, plateauing and on its downward trend.

Both authors explore the polarization of party ideology, divisive policy terms, and extensive media coverage of the extreme idealists of each party. They describe that a “disproportionately vocal minority may skew people’s perceptions of the modal views on each side.” Political interactions are meant to be factual-based discussions, not berating opponents with insults. This is a recurring thought in Liberals according to Heltzel and Laurin, stating, “…they believe political closed-mindedness is unintelligent and morally wrong, and reject co-partisans who refuse to consider opposing views….” Laurin and Heltzels’ hypothetical outcomes stated earlier may be likely, but there could be a third prediction.

Before there may be any long-term change to the discourse in Congress, the Democratic party may be faster to change its political discourse over time, but with the current growth of Conservative and Republican ideologies throughout Congress and the American Public, we will more than likely see a slower shift in political discourse coming from Republican parties.

It may be decades before we see both parties share similar objective goals again. Still, until then the middle ground will stay fringe territory leaving more young voters desiring a system where they no longer need to choose.