Elena Kadvany | Point: Partisanship cannot continue as is
My initial reaction to the news that President Barack Obama was re-elected was relief, not excitement.
I was relieved that the leader I believe in gets another four years to prove himself to those who don’t believe in him the way I do, and to continue the critical efforts he has made to improve this country.
On the Rachel Maddow Show this week, she suggested that the 2012 campaign was so dominated by slander, polarization and false accusations that these very significant efforts have been rendered almost invisible. He repealed don’t ask, don’t tell. He ended the War in Iraq and brought American troops home from Afghanistan, as promised. He oversaw the assassination of Osama bin Laden. He reinvigorated the American auto industry. He signed the nation’s largest job stimulus bill in history into law. He elected two women to the Supreme Court, one of them the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice in the history of the United States. He openly endorsed gay marriage. Just this week, he officially signed his student loan relief program into law.
But for some reason, all of those incredibly varied, critically important accomplishments got lost in the flood of negative ad campaigns, billions of dollars, binders full of women, and deepening divides between parties and people.
The thing is, just because the election is over does not guarantee that all of that is coming to an end. And what would be the most dangerous for Americans and this country’s future is if the partisanship — that increased to epic proportions during Obama’s first term and this election season — would continue as is, and further hinder the progress that the country desperately needs to make.
And though Obama is the best man for the job, even he cannot guarantee a fix for arguably the greatest problem we face in the next four years.
The real challenge now, for Obama, Democrats, Republicans, politicians and Americans alike is figuring out how to work together. It is time to move past the craziness of the past couple of months and for everyone on both sides, whether they supported Obama, Romney or someone else, to commit to the next generation of decision-making and nation building.
Burke Gibson | Counterpoint: In defense of bipartisan politics
The 2012 presidential election has been rightfully criticized for allowing the divide between the Republican and Democratic parties to interfere with the integrity of the election itself. It’s led to too many personal attacks and not enough focus on real issues, and has caused gridlock in the House of Representatives and the Senate — in an Election Day blog post, Google co-founder Sergey Brin called the government a “bonfire of partisanship” and requested that whichever candidate wins run the country as an independent.
It’s easy to criticize the inefficiencies in our current system, but do we really have another option? The concept of “Republican vs. Democrat” goes back to America’s origins, when Federalists and Republicans were competing for similar elected positions. Two-party politics is part of American culture and has proven relatively effective over the last couple hundred years; attempting to change such an ingrained part of society would be too monumental a task for us to see any real change in the near future.
And even if it was possible to change to a multi-party system, there’s no guarantee it would work. Having multiple prominent parties could leave more people unsatisfied with the results of an election, and groups would have the ability to focus on specific issues rather than a complete platform. There’s a reason the number of political parties tends to be limited even in other countries: The only way to run a country effectively is to have a broad enough platform to cover most important issues, which few parties have the resources to manage.
Rather than criticize the bipartisan system itself, we should be looking for ways to make it more efficient and streamlined. Essentially, our politicians need to start behaving as servants of the state first and servants of their parties second. We’ve seen the opposite recently — Republicans have shot down bills in the house, including one that would have provided aid to veterans over five years, solely to prevent President Barack Obama’s re-election. And the Democrats haven’t been on their best behavior, either: There has been no shortage of below-the-belt campaign advertisements, and Obama has a lot of work before he even comes close to fulfilling some of the promises he made before his first term.
Obama has the potential to be an excellent leader over the next four years, as long as he recognizes gridlock and animosity between parties as the main problem with the bipartisan system. It isn’t fundamentally flawed — it just needs fixing.