Is Liberal Diction Hindering Bipartisanship in the United States?
As we sit on the brink of one of the most chaotic election years in our nation’s history, we stand witness to increasing polarization in both the Democratic and Republican parties. Bipartisanship is viewed as almost fictitious, and the 114th Congress is locked in a begrudging stalemate.
This deadlock is caused by more than simply differing views and leaders unwilling to compromise.
For centuries our nation’s Congress has operated largely on a two party system, it’s dominating parties often being in less than agreement. Nevertheless, these legislatures were still capable of passing bills and implementing changes the country needed.
As for willingness to compromise, the 114th, Republican led Congress, is well known and less than respected for its numerous concessions to the Obama Administration. I’m not saying that the Republicans have been unbelievably flexible in their negotiating tactics, but they have been far more willing to reach across the aisle than their Democratic counterparts.
One of the most significant contributing factors to the failure of bipartisanship in Congress, the media, and in national attitudes is the language used by liberals when debating key policy issues.
When differing policy stances are presented by opposing sides, both positions are well thought out, and each side has concise reasoning for their stance. But for reasons unknown, it is becoming more and more apparent that those on the left would rather assert their opinion of an individual’s character based on his beliefs, than debate actual policy points.
For example, if a public figure were to come out as pro-life, elected officials from the left and especially the media, would have a hay day labeling him as “anti-woman” and “sexist”. Perhaps he is pro-life because in his heart he believes that an unborn child is a human being. Does wanting to protect and defend life make him “anti-woman” or “sexist”? Absolutely not! Such an accusation does not prove to anyone that his policy stance is incorrect or that the opposing view is correct. It is merely an attack on his personal character.
Similar situations have occurred in the public eye, such as the debate over gay marriage. If an individual were to declare that he disagreed with the Obergefell case ruling he would immediately be categorized as a “homophobe” or a “bigot”. Perhaps he believes that the Supreme Court overstepped its prescribed powers designated to it in the Constitution, and that the issue of gay marriage should have been decided by the governments of each state. But rather than present an argument to the public as to why his stance is wrong, it easier for those on the left to slander his reputation by throwing around stigmatizing names that characterize he and his political beliefs with ignorance and hatred.
It is this type of language that is hindering bipartisanship and polarizing the country. It is one thing to have heated debates on policy matters. It is an entire different undertaking to attack and slander an individual’s character for his/her sincerely held and well supported political beliefs.
When exchanges in ideas shift to attacks on personal character it entirely shuts down the conversation and prevents any progress in the way of finding a solution.
To make matters worse, the commonplace use of such stigmatizing diction has begun to halt the free expression of ideas altogether. A grouping of intelligent and hardworking Americans, recently coined as the “Silent Majority”, find it easier to keep their political beliefs to themselves, rather than face potential ridicule and social backlash.
Isn’t it sad when in a country founded upon the principles of free speech there are so many who are afraid to let their voices be heard?
Now before I am accused of being entirely one sided, let me assure you, I understand that this type of stigmatizing language goes both ways. Some Republicans can be heard describing those that support expansion of social welfare programs and increasing taxes on the wealthy as “communists” or “hippies”. Nevertheless, it is quite evident through the news media and social media that the left overwhelmingly utilizes this type of language. It is less common to be heard among those on the right.
Statements flaunting slanderous labels are one of the biggest detriments to bipartisanship. They incite partisan disdain and perpetuate wrongful stereotypes. At the end of the day, it does nothing but brood resentment and push us even further apart.
Therefore, it is important to remember when talking politics, calling someone a slanderous name doesn’t do anymore to prove that you are right than it does to prove the other person is wrong. You are merely stating your opinion of the person based on his political philosophy. YOU ARE NOT proving your point.
If you disagree with a political belief that someone has, prove to them that you are right and they are wrong. Have a serious debate on policy. Don’t just call them whatever new buzz word you’ve recently learned watching CNN.
A little respect can go a long way. Maybe if the goal was to develop the best policy for the people of the U.S. rather than paint a negative image of a particular person or cause, it might be a little easier to reach across the aisle.
Let’s focus on the issues, and leave the slanderous labeling behind. And maybe, just maybe we can rekindle bipartisanship and begin to bring America back from the extreme polarizations that are consuming our nation.