The United States is divided now more than ever when it comes to politics. A new survey done by the Pew Research Center shows that the gap is widening in partisan agreement. The gap is especially relevant in this years’ midterms, with major disagreements over the criminal justice system, climate change, gun violence and other things.
According to Daniel Bennett, a political science professor at John Brown University, this election was heavily affected by the partisan disagreement: “There is the danger of this negative partisanship or extreme social polarization taking deeper root, which could exacerbate some of these tensions.”
However, some are worried that because of the polarization, nothing will get done in congress. But Bennett believes that most differences can be put aside for the good of the country: “In the past, the leaders of both parties have been able to wrestle their members together for the sake of passing a budget or funding the military, the big issues that need to get done.” But not everything is a big issue. “In terms of passing policy that people want, it will continue to get harder. Historically, every congress has been less productive than the last one.”
Teague Broquard, a political science major at JBU, also believes that that partisan disagreement will affect this year’s congress: “It will affect how effective this new congress is, but I’m excited and hopeful to see the bipartisan measure that we’ll see in the next two years.”
Another big issue is sexism. According to the survey, 89% of Democrats say sexism is a very big or moderately big problem, compared to only 43% of Republicans. “The survey was conducted amid the controversy over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court,” the article said, “Overall, the shares viewing sexism as a very big problem were little changed over the field period of the survey, but the share of women who back Democratic candidates saying this rose.”
One of the largest gaps shown was the disagreement on illegal immigration. President Donald Trump used immigration as one of his largest platforms for rallying the Republican party. Using “Build That Wall!” as a rallying cry, it isn’t a surprise that those who are against the Trump supporters are also in favor of immigration.
Part of the polarization could be attributed to the divisions that the president has caused. “If anything, the rhetoric he has used as president is so different, and touches on more sensitive, or maybe extreme, that it encourages people who like him, and those that don’t, to retreat into their camps,” Bennett said, “But it could have been the same with a Hillary Clinton presidency. Both candidates had highly unfavorable ratings with members of the opposition party.”
The polarization doesn’t look like it will be coming to an end any time soon. “Inevitably things will change, but not for the next 30 or 40 years. Something will happen that will cause a party realignment.” Bennett said, “If you want to you can look at it like a pendulum, right now it’s swung in favor of the republicans, but it will eventually swing back in the favor of democrats. It will keep swinging bigger and bigger, but eventually will slow down.”
Although politics are a very big part of our lives, our faith should be a bigger part. Too often, people put their opinions on immigration or gay rights in front of their love for Christ and each other. “I think that Christians should be involved in politics. But I think the danger becomes when politics supplant faith as a priority in your life,” Bennett said. “As soon as your political opinions start effecting your relationships, especially in the church body, that’s not a good witness for the rest of the world.”