Opinion: Will the election fix polarization?

Bruce Walton

Bruce Walton

Contact Bruce Walton at [email protected].

We finally made it to the end of the election year. We are about to figure out who will be the next president of the United States. As predictions are revealing, it’s almost neck and neck between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. But I seem to be noticing a common trend.

In Supreme Court cases, only a slim number (most of the time just one vote) has decided many cases. In legislation, the House of Representatives is mostly conservative, and the Senate mostly liberal. In the executive branch, we are seeing almost identical numbers for each candidate. There is no doubt in my mind that we are in a polarized age of politics — more so than we were four years ago, and I would even say it’s been increasing steadily all this time.

It just feels like we are treating politics as if it were a sports game, in which you root for your favorite team and the guys on the other side are the enemies and should never be given any chance. Politics has a different sportsmanship than that of sports games, so it should not be treated as such.

We live in a great land of opportunity, where the people have the power to select our leaders and our leaders, in turn, have the power to control our government. Americans have been schizophrenic about what they want from their legislators, and it seems that panderers most like to root for the home team and boo all other angles. But both sides have good points and need to work together to bring America back to its former glory.

Romney has said he will bring Democrats and Republicans together, but he has no better chance than Obama. Perhaps the Democrats may be more complacent with the Republicans, but they will most likely oppose him, too. And if Romney is elected, he will have to walk on eggshells for his first-term growth: he won’t be reelected and the cycle will begin anew.

Obama, at least if elected, will have only one more term will do everything in his power to try to get legislation passed. His focus on reelection will have vanished. But who knows what his opponents may be planning to do to stop him? The same can be said about the Democrats and Romney.

I don’t think we need to rely on the president — and only the president — to fix political polarization in America. Every branch of government is at ends with each other, half on one side and half on another. No wonder nothing can get done right now. But whatever the case, this is going on, and when we vote a new or old president into office, we still face polarization, complain about nothing getting done, blame the wrong people and then switch our entire political views to the other side because the former didn’t help us.

Sometimes, I wonder if it isn’t just the politicians who need to change in America. I mean, we did choose them.