Politics is one of those topics that you’re told not to discuss because it can start arguments and fuel feuds. In America, we can see exactly that happening with greater and greater frequency, causing a deep rift within our society. Nowadays, people can’t even get their opinions across without being shut down or harassed. Shame and hate are permeating the construct of our society, by creating fear in those who discuss their beliefs and hopes for the future openly, of being attacked by their fellow Americans.
Since the beginning of American history, we have been warned against forming a two-party system. Take John Adams, for example, who said, “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition of each other.” He feared for the disunion of people with conflicting beliefs because he understood that the formation of two oppositional forces would result in a simplistic and archaic way of thinking. This way of thinking revolves around the concept of a binary system and opposites; that in order to be one thing, you cannot be another. This perspective is limiting, as it puts people into boxes and organizes paths of thought, limiting the potential for overlap.
Two-party systems tend to bring out the worst rather than the best in people. It causes people to fight rather than compromise because they view each other as competitors against each other rather than people working towards a common goal. Arguments are lost in translation because of preconceived ideas about the other party. It causes narrowmindedness and ignorance. People have stopped trying to understand each other, and the tone of politics is becoming volatile. Recently, I went on Facebook, and I stumbled across an intense political debate in the comments of a post. The post was just an article that had been shared discussing stunt politics, but as people responded to the post, comments quickly escalated from statements of agreement or disagreement to slanderous insults being thrown back and forth. The worst part is that no resolution was found. It ended abruptly with insults and irresolution. As a bystander to this argument, I could see that all of the people involved in the dispute had a common issue- they all claimed to be against the use of stunt politics by politicians- but none of them seemed to acknowledge their shared beliefs because they were too preoccupied with proving each other wrong.
If people took the time to try to understand each other- not as democrats and republicans, left-winged or right-winged, blue or red, but as individuals- then they would see that they aren’t so different, that they have things in common. It would lead to people focusing on what is really important: building our society on common ground. After all, we all have to share this place, so why not get along too? This is where the concept of third parties comes. When we focus on what we want rather than merely stopping what we don’t want, we shift our energy into something transformative. This is supported by Newton’s law of attraction which states that like attracts like.
Maine seems to have it figured out with its ranked-choice system for voting. The system allows for voters to rank the candidates they prefer in the order. The candidates’ votes are then ranked, and if there is no clear majority winner, the least popular candidate is removed from the ranks, and all others are shifted up a place until there is one clear majority-favored choice. This method of voting reflects a more accurate candidate choice for voters that is in line with their values. This system also makes it more feasible for third-party candidates to be voted for by leveling out the playing field and making a more fair race.
Until the rest of the country figures out the ranked-choice system, I would encourage you to do your part as an individual. Stop and listen to each other, not as opponents but as people. The next time you find yourself in a similar position, try to find your common ground and work towards that.