Published November 10, 2012 | By articles
No, Virginia, the 2012 Election’s Hyperpartisanship Will Not Last Forever
Independent’s Eye by Joe Gandelman
DEAR COLUMNIST: I am 13 years old and in the 8th grade.
“Some of my friends say America will never be able to put back together after the highly divisive Presidential election and that due to hyperpartisanship people will never work together to solve our problems. They say it’s getting almost impossible. Papa says if you hear people say it on TV, in newspapers and on blogs then it must be so. Please tell me the truth: can America truly get together after this election? Can there ever be a change that takes place that could move our country towards real problem-solving, or is this as “good” as it can get?
285 Quintessential Ave., Any City, USA
Virginia, your friends are wrong. As someone who writes this column, loved political science at Colgate, monitors political shows on radio and TV, and who spends hours surfing the internet to edit and write my centrist blog The Moderate Voice, I know how easy it is to get swept up by the early 21st century’s rages, passions and melodrama.
You and your friends are picking up the fact that our politics no longer resemble the kind of politics that made America great — where consensus and compromise were virtues and where politicians perhaps begrudgingly acknowledged the importance of truth and could not blatantly and intentionally ignore it. You’re picking up on the tone of our political culture where rudeness, boorishness and aggressiveness are perceived by some as being intelligent. Our political culture has shifted, but just as things shift, they can re-shift — and it is in the power of you and other young people to do it.
Go back into American history and you’ll find many examples of times when compromise — two principled parties or politicians giving a little, then taking a little to come up with something for the common good that’s supported by more than a power-play faction of people — was a virtue. Legislator and former Secretary of State Henry Clay, Sr. (April 12, 1777 – June 29, 1852) was even called “The Great Compromiser” for his role in the 1820 Missouri Compromise. Partisans known for compromise today face primaries and are replaced by hyperpartisans.