Politics

The Ethos of Democracy.

Dismantling Political Polarization.

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Source: Javier Zarracina/Vox.

Political polarization is a dramatic strategy to arouse and outrage the masses. It’s disseminated to fixate the audience on disagreements. Audiences are slow-poisoned, and their standards are lowered to make them incapable of seeing their political opponents as fellow citizens. It is based on forged claims, fictitious promises, and overwhelming provocations. It prevents and distracts people from rationally thinking about others’ concerns or having a comprehensive and wholesome understanding of issues. We need an overriding principle above the partisanship of parties to set a moral code for politics. This write-up intends to suggest ways to repair these barren partisan arguments little by little and, in the process, overhaul political and public exchanges to make them more civil.

Though a sober competition between political parties sheds light upon the health of our democracy, we need to bear in mind that political competition remains beneficial only as long as it’s between ideas and ideologies of different groups. When the focus shifts from ideological debates to partisan arguments and politicization of the electoral process, we strip our democracy of its essence and leave it struggling without any pursuance of betterment. When the fruits of democracy by way of deliberations and discussions on public issues lead to unyielding and inflexible opinion formation, it’s no longer democratic and instead makes democracy dysfunctional. One cannot count dismantling polarisation as a method to improve democracy; instead, it is just a way to manage its misdeeds and failings.[1]

Polarization “is a blatant, dramatic, frightening attempt to alter America in ways that will make it unrecognizable and forever destroy the greatest economic wealth creation system in the history of the world.”, observe Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse in their book Political Argument In A Polarized Age.

Rational and civil political debates are possible when opponents are treated as different but not as a group inherently wrong in all matters on account of not coming from the same political ideology. One can maintain consistency with one’s political views without holding on to the rigid belief that there exists just one right response to an issue. We live in a world more complicated than that. We have problems, causes, and consequences of which are as multifaceted as their solutions.

The myopic view of winning voter’s confidence through easy short-term electoral perks from one electoral cycle to another dissuades politicians from prioritizing long-term policies, which leads to pulling sustainability off the economy. A less electorally-motivated vision is required to hedge the problems most politically polarized countries find themselves in. For example, they can do better in long term infrastructural projects, from excellent and affordable education to accessible healthcare, if they support each other in macro visions to better their country, rather than becoming impediments for petty political gains.

Longer political terms are better suited if one is to resolve the problem of short-termism.[2] As it would take away the dissuasion that prevents them from handling things more effectively due to time limitations, reduced budgets, or general inability to execute things aptly in a short-sighted mandate. Policymaking based on long-term vision wouldn’t have led to the downsizing of America’s middle-income class from 61% in 1971 to 51% in 2019. Every decade has ended with a smaller number of adults living in that category.[3]

Perhaps democratic reforms have to come from other actors and stakeholders as well other than the state. We need active civil society, purposeful NGOs, corporations, and good think tanks to bring about political reform. It’s not only the government’s or politicians’ responsibility to see a more effective government. Partisan politics undermines the legitimacy of the entire system, including the separation of powers, from acting as hurdles in passing meaningful legislation to appointing a merit-based judiciary.

Media is also an essential part of public discussions; its entire ecosystem, including new forms of communications, has significant implications on our democracy. They help shape and destroy ideologies through information and misinformation using conventional and new ways of dispersing information, including technology. Exposure and association of people with like-minded groups on social media platforms encourage radicalization of prevailing opinions. It leads to ‘group-ism,’ which in turn results in the reiteration of beliefs. A culture shift is required where varied views on an issue are civilly considered. It will also help counter psychological manipulations a user is exposed to in terms of ads and targeted content.

Excessive political polarization tears societies apart. They can damage even the most stable and old democracies. Division between the governing forces has the potential to change the politics of a nation. Instead of revolving around real issues, it alternatively brings everything down to class, race, religion, and nationalism. Democracies are reduced to conflict and divisions between the two parties. These acute animosities are flared up due to the political gains leading to rather bigger impediments in uniting a nation. These extreme aggravations in harmful and polarized politics have to be deliberately stopped through electoral rules, consensus-building measures, finding common ground, and probably building stable party systems; before they develop into irreconcilable divisions.

[1] Aikin, Scott F., and Robert B. Talisse. 2020. Political argument in a polarized age: Reason and democratic life. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

[2] MOYO, DAMBISA. 2019. EDGE OF CHAOS. [Place of publication not identified]: ABACUS.

[3] https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2020/01/09/trends-in-income-and-wealth-inequality/

Dialogue & Discourse

News and ideas worthy of discourse.

Sakshi Kharbanda, Ph.D.

Written by

Learner| Researcher| Writer. Writes on Democracy, Capitalism and Inclusion. Fascinated by Mathematics and Mathematicians.

Dialogue & Discourse

News and ideas worthy of discourse. Fundamentally informative and intelligently analytical.

Sakshi Kharbanda, Ph.D.

Written by

Learner| Researcher| Writer. Writes on Democracy, Capitalism and Inclusion. Fascinated by Mathematics and Mathematicians.

Dialogue & Discourse

News and ideas worthy of discourse. Fundamentally informative and intelligently analytical.

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