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When Democrats and Republicans fight, we lose

Connor Roth | Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sadly, people of our age have not had the opportunity of seeing Martin Luther King Jr.’s impassioned speeches on equality, segregation and discrimination in person. We have not had the pleasure of seeing the Civil Rights movement come to fruition through this hero’s civil disobedience. Even more disappointingly, for our entire lives we have not had any president that has truly acted on the ideology held by revolutionaries like MLK Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi – that is, the ideology of promoting freedom and upholding liberty. After the founding of this nation, society decided to ignore George Washington’s advice against political parties and has generally galvanized itself into two halves. For some reason, society in America continually polarizes itself into left versus right battles on the most important issues our country faces. Mark Twain once wrote, “It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled,” and the truth is, this nation has been deceived for decades.
As Americans, we can all agree we have the same goals: to create a nation promoting freedom and equality under the law, to foster a society that continually increases the standard of living for its inhabitants and, most importantly, to protect each person’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The main difference between the two major political parties is the means of accomplishing that end. The issue with this dichotomy, though, is that American culture has changed from “pro-liberty” to “pro-Democrat” or “pro-Republican.” Individuals find themselves voting along party lines rather than for specific candidates and their respective platforms, then somehow attempt to convince themselves a majority vote will make future legislative action legitimate. Aristotle wrote that pure democracy would allow mob-rule to unfold, which is why the Founding Fathers built this nation as a democratic republic, not a republican-democracy. A republic appealed to the Founders because in their minds it would best uphold liberty, but as society forgot its roots, we have once again found ourselves imposing our political ideology on others, defending this action with the fallacy coined by Alexis de Tocqueville as the [false] “majority’s wisdom.”
Coming back to my first point, this division between Republicans and Democrats poses a moral hazard to the American people as a whole. We are taught getting the approval of 50.1 percent of the people or accepting the rhetoric of five Supreme Court Justices makes something warranted or justifiable, even if it blatantly infringes on the rights of the minority. We divide ourselves, close off our minds and refuse to listen to reason purely out of political stubbornness and indoctrination. Martin Luther King Jr. stood up against racial injustices back in the 1960s, and now it is time the nation swallows its pride, abandons party allegiances and holds political “leaders” responsible for their failures under all circumstances. While I understand there are some exceptions to the bifaceted nature of our political system, many people who silently disapprove of their own party’s actions will jump the gun to vilify the poor behavior of opposition. Where were the “fiscally conservative” Republicans who so vehemently opposed President Barack Obama’s auto industry bailouts when President George Bush passed the Wall Street Troubled Asset Relief Program? Where were the “anti-war” liberals when Obama sent troops to Mali, suggested extending deployment in Afghanistan and approved the use of drone strikes, which killed more than 3,000 innocent children in Pakistan and Yemen?
While there is obviously much hypocrisy each party will have to come to terms with, I also believe there are many other policies both parties have got wrong. I will be discussing many of these topics in future articles but will introduce a few of them now in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, hoping the champion of civil disobedience will spark some debate about relevant issues hindering society. Do guns make us less safe? Is it the federal government’s position to be involved with healthcare? Should we legalize marijuana? What about same-sex marriage? What’s going to happen with our debt? Finally, what is with the American global policeman/hyper-interventionist complex?
As I previously mentioned, I will be addressing all of these issues in future articles, hoping to help rid the state of apathy that seems to be taking control of our country. While I do not claim to have all the answers, I am sick of the “Pepsi vs. Cola” false-choice society we live in and am tired of being told I have to support the lesser of two evils (which is still an evil, right?). If Martin Luther King Jr. were still alive today, I can promise you he would not have endorsed either of the two party’s presidential nominations; he would have supported the one candidate who would have voted on principle for freedom and fairness in society (we’re not talking Santorum or Newt here), but I’ll leave it to the readers to determine whom I am alluding to.

Connor Roth is a sophomore economics major and constitutional studies minor. He canbe reached at croth1@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.