A Nation Divided

Political polarization is creating deadly consequences

Reema Guda, Staff Writer

“Let’s not get political”. In the wake of social movements such as Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate, it seems as though our country has unnecessarily become more divided than ever. With increased access to social media, it’s become easier than ever to spread information at the click of a button, but sometimes, this can be used more as a weapon than a tool.

Take COVID-19 for example. The pandemic started as a public health issue, where everyone came together to grieve those who were affected and to come up with a way for our lives to go back to normal. Ultimately, it has turned into an ongoing debate about whether scientific research conducted by the most qualified scientists in the country is “real” or not. People have started looking for unnecessary reasons to stir up controversy, and that has resulted in over 648,000 deaths in the US that could have been avoided. 648,000 families that wouldn’t have to grieve the loss of a loved one if people would just wear their masks and get vaccinated instead of turning science into a debate.

The Pew Research Center defines the phenomenon of trying to turn everyday life events into a political scenario as Political Polarization, “the vast and growing gap between liberals and conservatives”. The survey shows that the amount of Americans who persistently identify with either conservative or liberal beliefs has jumped from 10% to 21% in the past two decades, meaning the amount of “ideological overlap” between the two groups is decreasing. 

This creates a sense of growing division between the two opposing sides, causing there to be a sense of competition; people from both sides will automatically oppose any ideas brought up from the other side, no matter what. This can have detrimental effects, especially if it gets to the point where politicians start creating laws over subjects that shouldn’t even be up for debate.

Texas GOP lawmakers recently passed a bill that cracks down on prohibiting critical race theory from being taught in their schools. Brookings Institute states that put simply, the definition of Critical Race Theory is “U.S. social institutions (e.g., the criminal justice system, education system, labor market…) are laced with racism embedded in laws, regulations, rules, and procedures that lead to differential outcomes by race”. 

Teaching critical race theory in school simply means that students will be taught about how the history of racial inequality in America still has systemic effects to this day. However, the narrative has been completely twisted into the idea that teaching it in schools is somehow labeling all white people as “oppressors”, which is simply not the case, and gives into the idea of political polarization, and coming up with excuses for liberals and conservatives to disagree on yet another topic.

Facts are being molded to fit political agendas, which will create adverse effects on both current and future generations.

“There isn’t anything wrong with living a political life”, Sonny Bunch, an American journalist said. “A politicized life is a different beast, however. It treats politics as a zero-sum game or a form of total warfare in which the other side must be obliterated”.

Politics affects every aspect of our lives, and every bill that’s passed could either help or harm the way we live. When we turn it into a game of always trying to prove the other side wrong, that’s when we start moving backwards instead of making progress.

We need to start being more open to the other side, instead of always turning everything into a this-or-that game. It’s not always about being right; it’s about making decisions that will help our country move forward into the best version of itself. It’s time we start being a little more selfless and putting other people’s needs before our own wants. Wanting to fulfill our rights shouldn’t infringe on others’ freedom.