Editorial: Stay Loyal to Yourself, Not Your Affiliations

Recently, the Trump Administration has come under fire for the separation of families at the border. Online and media outlets show the majority of Republicans and Conservatives rallying around the president’s policy while Democrats and Liberals are expressing outrage.

On Wednesday, however, President Trump signed an executive order to keep families together while still maintaining the “zero-tolerance” prosecution policy.

“We all very much have the same views, we want to keep families together,” Trump said. “We have to be very strong on the border but at the same time we want to be compassionate.”

While this should be a relief for many Americans, many still scrutinize and question Trump’s decision.

Although the United States’ immigration policy certainly isn’t flawless, shouldn’t we be relieved that, at the very least, families will no longer be separated and the current families in the U.S. will be reunited? Shouldn’t we be happy that the voices of many Americans were heard and change was made?

The tension toward the president and his policies may have to do with the polarization between the Democratic and Republican parties. It is no secret that Democrats and Republicans have conflicting views, but just how opposed are they against each other?

In the article “Partisanship and Political Animosity in 2016” by The Pew Research Center, it describes the intense polarization of both parties, with “very negative reviews” against the other.

Feelings of fear and anger are cited as reasons for the conflicts between the two.

“More than half of Democrats (55%) say the Republican Party makes them ‘afraid,’ while 49% of Republicans say the same about the Democratic Party,” it states. “Among those highly engaged in politics – those who say they vote regularly and either volunteer for or donate to campaigns – fully 70% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans say they are afraid of the other party.”

Interestingly enough, members of each party have more negative feelings toward the opposing party than positive feelings toward their own, according to the article. These feelings are not just limited to policies though; they also have personal elements to them.

“… just 16% of Republicans and 20% of Democrats say they ‘almost always’ agree with their party’s policy stances,” it states. “By contrast, more than twice as many Republicans and Democrats (44% each) say they ‘almost never’ agree with the other party’s positions.”

It continues, “Asked to rate several groups on a 0-100 ‘thermometer’ – where 0 is the coldest, most negative rating and 100 represents the warmest, most positive rating – Republicans and Democrats give very low ratings to the people in the opposing party. Democrats give Republicans a mean rating of 31 – far lower than the average ratings for five other groups on the thermometer, including military personnel and elected officials. Republicans give Democrats a mean rating of 29; only elected officials (30) and atheists (36) are nearly as low.”

These statistics, however, applied to elected officials and policies before the 2016 election.

Since then, both parties have become much more aggressive toward the other. In a study concerning partisanship and political animosity conducted by the Pew Research Center, it concluded that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s ratings from opposing parties were much lower.

“The average rating for Trump among Democrats is 11 on the 0-100 scale. Fully 82% of Democrats give Trump a ‘very cold’ rating (less than 25), including about two-thirds (68%) who give him a zero, the lowest possible rating,” it states. “Clinton gets an average rating of 12 among Republicans. Among the 76% of Republicans who give Clinton a very cold rating, 59% rate her at zero.”

The study also showed that Democrats and Republicans viewed the other in less-than-favorable ways. Characteristics such as “closed minded,” “immoral,” “lazy,” “dishonest,” and “unintelligent” were used to describe members of the opposing party. In turn, most Democrats and Republicans said they find “little common ground” with those they politically disagree with.

“Despite these widespread partisan stereotypes, most Democrats and Republicans stop short of saying that it would be more difficult to get along with a new community member who belonged to the other party,” it states. “While the current partisan environment does not for the most part appear to be turning neighbor against neighbor, it may be making for some difficult conversations about politics”

Lastly, the study talks about why people identify with their chosen party. It states that the negative feelings toward the opposing party are why many associate themselves with their own. While many point out the positive impacts their party has on why they chose them, just as many cite the harmful impacts of the other party in the decision.

“Among Republicans, 68% say a major reason they identify with the GOP is that ‘the Democratic Party’s policies are harmful to the country,’ while 64% say it is because they think ‘the Republican Party’s policies are good for the country,’” it states. “More Democrats cite the positive effects of their party’s policies than the negative consequences of GOP policies, but the margin is modest: 68% say a major reason they are a Democrat is that the Democratic Party’s policies are beneficial for the country, while 62% say a major reason is because Republican policies harm the country.”

While the American people will never fully agree on everything, it is important to compromise for real change to be made. By blindly following one’s party, no one will bother to understand the other and America will remain at a standstill. Hearing each other out and looking at the country’s issues from different perspectives has the potential to create a more informed and open-minded democracy. It’s okay to form your own thoughts, but let those thoughts and opinions guide you rather than jumping on your party’s bandwagon.