Election infighting, political hostility undermine party unity, common courtesy

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GRAPHIC BY SAUMYA SHARMAN / THE FLAT HAT

Super Tuesday is this week, and I am sure that many students and staff at the College of William and Mary will be participating in the Virginia primaries. With the Republican nomination effectively settled on incumbent President Donald Trump, all eyes are on the Democratic primary as Americans wait on the edge of their seats to see who will challenge one of the most controversial presidents in recent American history this November. One would think that it would be easy for the Democratic nominees to unite their efforts to put one of their own in the White House.

I’m sorry, but as I wrote that last sentence, I couldn’t finish with a straight face in light of the Democratic primary debates that have taken place over the last couple of months. The ideological division of our country must now not only take place in childish behavior between the supposed adults who run our nation, but it must now occur on our television sets between those whom some Americans view as the hope for our country’s future.

Division is everywhere in this country. Frankly speaking, I’m sick of it. And if you are wondering what my political views are in order to inform your opinion of my qualities as a person, then you should know that they are none of your business and that you yourself are only proving what I am about to say. Read on if you dare.

You are going to meet people in life who disagree with you. See, I remember learning that in elementary school, and it was a lesson that I was exposed to on a regular basis. Some kids that I met thought Hot Wheels were better than Star Wars — the horror — but I was told that these kids still deserved the respectful manners that I was taught to offer everyone that I

met. I suppose that I received elementary education at a really unique point in educational history, because I know several adults and many of my fellow students who did not seem to learn that they were going to meet people who disagreed with them, and that those people were no less deserving of the standards of our society.

Yes, this also applies to our political beliefs. I will confess that those close to me tend to share, for the most part, similar political beliefs to mine. We tend to spend time with people who are similar to us, but this does not give me the right to be any less courteous to those people who disagree with me. I have met plenty of lovely Republicans and plenty of Republicans who are not so nice. Likewise, I know plenty of lovely Democrats and plenty of Democrats who are not so nice. I do my best each day to judge people by their character, and not by their beliefs. Painting those who disagree with us as evil, or enemies to the people, or whatever dramatic rhetoric wins votes these days, is not merely inaccurate; it also threatens the future of our republic.

I use the wording “threatens the future” because very soon, the Democratic primary will narrow down to one person as the nominee, and there are bound to be Democrats who are disappointed and were hoping for another nominee instead. Likewise, the 2020 presidential election is only a few short months away, and only one candidate will walk away as the President of the United States. There are bound to be many more disappointed people throughout the nation regardless of whom wins.

But screaming at each other and our elected officials is neither constructive nor civil; the problems we face in this nation will not magically disappear even if our preferred candidate wins the election.

Issues such as healthcare, immigration reform and climate change, for example, demand our united collaboration and a healthy and open debate over which ideas are best to solve each problem. If not, then as Ben Franklin wisely warned us, “most assuredly, we will all hang separately.”

So, on this Super Tuesday, vote for whomever your conscience dictates, and respect your neighbor’s conscience to vote whomever he or she thinks is best for the job.

Email Lucas Harsche at
lmharsche@email.wm.edu.