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Sunday, October 01, 2023
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How political polarization is driving us apart

Millions across America will soon be voting in this years’ midterm elections. With hot issues such as abortion, inflation and the Ukraine-Russia conflict still looming in voters’ minds, there’s a lot that has to be weighed when choosing a candidate on Nov. 8. 

For many, finding someone they completely agree with will be a struggle, leaving many voters to decide which policies and issues matter the most to them. This results in voters choosing relatively extremist candidates on both sides of the political spectrum.

Thirteen out of 50 centrist senators bowed out or lost their political primary this election cycle, a staggering number in today's political atmosphere. In past years, only one out of eight centrist members made the same move, showing a trend that if continued may cause further political polarization.

Because of political polarization, many voters are left lost without any candidate or party to turn to. “I admit that political polarization may bring it all to an end, we're going to have a hung election and a civil war," Bill Gates said in a recent interview

While civil war might not quite be the most accurate prediction, it brings upon a troubling scenario where both sides have too extreme of candidates for the common voter to choose from. Being driven farther and farther from a common ground, many are left with political homelessness. 

It’s not just Bill Gates pointing out this growing problem. Several former secretaries of defense and former officials penned an open letter recently condemning the “extremely adverse” political environment.  They cited the recent presidential election and recent geopolitical issues as the main drivers of our new reality. If not curbed, more and more Americans will struggle to find a candidate as the situation continues to exacerbate.

Within the Republican party, those with liberal views have argued that “right-wing parties in western Europe and the US are likely to become more raucously extreme.” Europe is currently seeing a right-wing shift in their elections while the U.S is facing serious concerns regarding the economy and inflation. 

Others point to former President Donald Trump as the driving factor in this dividing of the country. With his election denials and continued belief  the 2020 election was stolen, some argue the former president bears most responsibility for just how far apart the right is from the left. 

In a speech last month, President Joe Biden claimed Donald Trump has started a movement resembling “semi-fascism.” In response, some from the right side of the aisle have condemned the president for calling his opponent a “facist,” which — in their eyes — continue to rip the country farther apart. 

Additionally, Republicans have noted that Democrats are feeding into this extremism. Recently, Democrats have been funding candidates who share more extreme views within the Republican party in hopes of having a better chance of defeating a far-right candidate rather than a moderate right-leaner. 

“Well, the strategy is clear, which is: the candidate that is more extreme in the Republican primary is ultimately going to be easier for the Democrat to beat in the general election," a Democratic strategist claimed

If this strategy is the way to go from the Democrats point of view, it may open the door to far-right candidates being elected, according to some. Pressing Vice President Kamala Harris on this, NBC’s Chuck Todd asked: “‘Is the Democratic party making a mistake here? You know, those people could win if you’re not careful.’”

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For the average voter, it's hard to know what to believe. There appears to be two truths — depending on which party you support. This further disagreement only cuts the wound of polarization deeper, and it makes one wonder just how much blood will spill out. 

Joe Gonzalez is a freshman staff writer majoring in Political Science. Do you believe that political polarization in America has become a worse problem today? Send all comments to opinion@dailycardinal.com

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