When you think about politics, what comes to mind? If you are like most Americans, it is probably not a pleasant image.
Indeed, the United States has become increasingly divided over recent years, and it often seems like representatives are accomplishing less and less as a result of the political split.
In an effort to address the issue of national divisiveness, a group by the name of No Labels has come together with members from both sides of the aisle to spread a perspective of bipartisanship to all who will listen. According to the coalition’s founder, Nancy Jacobson, cooperation between parties is the key to bridging the giant gap that currently exists in today’s politics.
Although politicians sometimes throw around the word “bipartisanship” in the news, its meaning is not always so clear. Basically, this approach to politics occurs when opposing groups work together to accomplish shared goals. As the U.S. becomes more divided, citizens are witnessing examples of this kind of leadership less and less often, especially from the federal level.
Despite its growing rarity today, examples of bipartisanship have occurred many times throughout the country’s history. From the days of debating the Constitution to the days of ending slavery or putting a man on the moon, American legislators have come together, time and time again, to put the best interests of the American People ahead of political nonsense.
Passing a law is not always easy. Often, it is quite the opposite. In particular, when it comes to issues that the majority of people consider to be controversial, legislation usually requires the work of both major political parties before voters are willing to accept an idea. In the past, bipartisanship has led to the passage of many new laws. Here are just some examples:
- Great Compromise of 1787: From the days of deciding how the country’s systems of government should function, cooperation between opposite sides has been necessary.
- Civil Rights Act of 1964: At a time when civil rights were extremely controversial, it took a single act of bipartisanship to end the longest filibuster in U.S. history.
- Endangered Species Act of 1973: To improve the state of species conservation efforts, Congress showed overwhelming support for this law.
- Social Security Reform of 1983: Despite being a thorny issue, Social Security experienced a lot of reforms thanks to the bipartisanship work of both major affiliations.
- Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015: This was not that long ago. As recently as 2015, members of both parties came together to give states more rights by replacing the No Child Left Behind Act with the ESSA.
By looking to history for strong examples of bipartisan leadership like the ones above, today’s elected officials can find some guidance for going forward.
Benefits Of Cooperation
When researchers have looked into American preferences, the majority of citizens express a desire for more civility and cooperation in politics. As such, studies suggest that more collaboration between opposing parties has the potential to bring Americans together in the passage of bills necessary to address the outstanding needs of the nation. In addition to getting more work done, other benefits to bipartisanship include:
- Increased trust among voters:Currently, there is little trust that exists between Americans and their representatives. When politicians come together to pass laws that help people, it can help shift this common perspective.
- More understanding between different parties:With cooperation comes understanding. In order to work together, people from opposing sides must be willing to hear each other out and seek solutions that solve problems for everyone at the table.
- Better representation for everyone:When leaders work with members from both sides, it offers fairer representation. Unless public officials work collaboratively, only constituents from the majority party will feel represented.
At the end of the day, there is no doubt about it: When political opponents are able to set aside differences to focus on the greater good, the entire country benefits.
Costs of Division
On the other hand, anyone familiar with current events in the U.S. can attest to the negative consequences of national division. Although parties can provide voters with a sense of identity, sometimes that identity prevents them from seeing the bigger picture. Rather than seeing themselves as Americans, many people start seeing only Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives. When this happens, the cost goes beyond unproductive name-calling. When leaders cannot work together, legislation stalls and citizens often suffer as a result.
To move forward, the American People must start demanding their representatives to stand up against petty political games. Instead of the current situation in Washington D.C., citizens deserve leaders who are willing to work together to put their constituents before their political affiliation.
Although today’s political atmosphere can be frustrating, it is not hopeless. To move forward, leaders must start working together to bridge the gap between political parties. Then, everyone can win.
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