History never repeats itself, only rhymes; Will young Americans address this unspoken divide? Pt.1

by Anthony Beltran

     Twenty-two years ago, American society remarked politics as a topic to leave at the door, and impolite to question someone else about their political views. Politics were important, but many Republicans and Democrats had similar values in what drives them as supporters of their respective parties; family and loved ones, a financially stable home, and a secure nation able to provide for and protect its citizens.

Then, 9/11, was a day filled with pain and suffering. However, what is most remarkable about this event, is the day after, 9/12. Americans were united, and no matter who, or what you were, you were American. This surge of patriotism was an eye of beholden beauty, but it did not last for exceptionally long. It may have been the longest we have come together in such a way, and COVID-19 reminded us of that.

Today, what was once fundamental in a successful home and community is now extremely polarized, and even further encouraged by mainstream media. What was once Republican is now the extreme right, and what was once Democrat is the extreme left. Political polarization is common, but it is the flaw in the foundation of America’s original vision, a nation without political parties.

The Founding Fathers of America saw the United States as a nation for those within their respective colonies to govern themselves without the need for separate ideologies. Time passed, and this idea was soon forgotten, leading to one of the most significant civil unrest in American history and many more after.  Does this growth in the divide between one another weaken, or strengthen America?

     Polarization in politics was present at the very founding of the United States of America. The Establishment of America’s beginning was on a difference of opinions between the King of England and the Landowners in the American Colonies, giving birth to political campaigning, the birth of American Political Cartoons, and the establishment of political parties.

These were all defining contributions to the victory over the British during the American Revolutionary War, but leaders of America thought that the introduction of political parties would lead to a devolvement of national unity, and instead prioritize political authority. George Washington said during his farewell address as President, “The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of part[ies] are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain [them]”.

After his death, Federalists felt that there should be less federal government intervention in their affairs, leaving most control in local and state hands, with a favor to the French in the south. Democratic-Republicans were more in favor of more federal government intervention, as well as appeasement to England post-independence. As time passed, parties were abandoned, such as the Federalists and Wigs, state representatives evolved to match many voters, and party ideology become distinct through their version of what a thriving America should be.

One of the most notable issues that distinguished the Republican and Democratic parties at one point in time, was slavery. Continued disagreement over the issue led Lincoln to fight the south to abolish slavery after initially campaigning on only preventing it from expanding to Western states. While George Washington deemed a centralist position in office a necessity to keep both parties at bay, campaign parties such as Lincoln’s can be compared to today as how someone might campaign as a centrist but be pressured to move to one polarized position while in office because they need the support of their political parties, achieving their goals stated in their campaign.