By Mike Morefield
Illustration by Jennifer Kearney
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 28, 2005
For generations, lines have been drawn, segregating people from each other on grounds of color and gender. The "separate but equal" fight against black people in the first half of the 20th century is a perfect example of segregation based on a simple fact: black or white.
The black community has persevered and is now generally afforded the same luxuries as any other American community. Gender wars have also raged on for more than a century in the U.S., and women have fought an uphill battle to receive the rights given to them as citizens.
Because problems continue to arise, no person would be so audacious as to say that the battles for equality are over, but the progressive nature of society in the last 40 years is astounding. The progression is marred, though, by the new rise in discrimination.
Women's pay is increasing, blacks have claimed high offices, but the new segregation has arisen; no longer is it black and white, but red and blue. The new battle in the population is building along party lines, and the segregation is becoming more entrenched every day.
The Democratic and Republican parties are polarizing our society, tearing at the seams of tolerance that have been stitched since the civil rights movements of the 1960s. Republicans focus on the inadequacies of the Democrats, picking at their inability to lead and failure to make strong decisions.
The Democrats assume the defensive by demonizing the Republicans as heartless creatures, with no compassion for the common man. These tactics, although strategically used to gain power in the political arena, are filtering down to individuals supporting their warring faction, driving a wedge in society. The stagnation of Jimmy Carter's administration because of partisan politics in Congress is a perfect example of irrational following of party lines.
Politics will inevitably come up in one form or another in conversations. Whether it's complaining about student loans or the war in Iraq, politics covertly hide themselves in different facets of our conversations and the question of political affiliation usually filters out.
"You're a Republican? What, they couldn't find your soul at birth?"
"Wait, you're a Democrat? Why don't I get you a box of tissues while you stop your bleeding heart?"
The same two people who shared a bond because of their late financial aid checks now have a hidden rising tension between them, a wall forming between because of blanket stereotypes.
Even though the person may not be spouting the latest republican or democratic rhetoric, individuals will choose not to associate themselves with such people simply because of their beliefs. This blind association to party without knowing the individual or seeing the whole person is just as irresponsible as judging them by their skin.
The single fact of party affiliation should never drive a wedge between people; it should only spark healthy debate and appreciation for our political system. The lines are also not simply red and blue anymore, there are growing sects inside the larger political machine, and these differences should be celebrated.
The high approval rate of freshman Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is directly related to his refusal to blindly stand on party lines. He does not vote to follow the party; he follows what is right for his constituents.
There are the fiscally conservative Democrats, straying from their party's stance on spending money to make money, and there also the socially progressive Republicans, acting in contradiction to their conservative party.
These groups are ostracized and labeled as outsiders for separating themselves from the mainstream parties. Some call them fence sitters, just waiting for the dust to settle from political struggles and cross to the victor's camp; the fair-weather fans of politics.
This anger toward the people who refuse to play the partisan game of the parties and seeing the dangers of partisanship is unwarranted. They are on the forefront of the new civil rights movement; the people who choose not to see in the ways of red and blue, but in purple.
A College Republican should not have to worry about losing friends by acknowledging his affiliation, and people should not have to hide their "registered Democrat" voting card from their accounting class friends.
No one denies that racism and sexism are still plaguing parts of society, but the evolution to tolerance is almost exponential. America should not move from one segregation to another.
So stop drawing the lines between red and blue, see purple and recognize the dangers in partisan politics.
Mike Morefield is a political science senior. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.