In a time of extreme leftists and extreme rightists, those in the “middle” are actually not centrists at all. Looking at the democratic debates for President, it is clear to see that a “centrist” in the democratic party is someone who doesn’t align with Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. What we call “centrists” today would be referred to simply as Democrats and Republicans in past political climates. This has created a great strain on the bipartisan democracy that is supposed to be running this country. Most Republicans think Bernie Sanders’ policies are what all Democrats agree with and most Democrats think Donald Trump’s policies are what all Republicans agree with.
GRAPHIC COURTESY OF NPR
The truth of the matter is, the current political climate is so polarized that if someone hears that the opposing party supports a given policy, that person will automatically be against it based on party lines. In the past, the presidential election was never as polarized as it is today. There was a time when Democrats didn’t want Republicans to win, but also didn’t think it would be the end of the world if that candidate won. But in today’s climate, and especially with today's candidates, Democrats typically feel as though a victory for the Republican candidate would start the apocalypse.
The only way to conquer the divide is to have a conversation with someone you think you don’t agree with. There will never be bipartisanship in politics if the politically-minded and people voting hate the other party based on stereotypes and gut-feelings. Sure, there will be people you disagree with completely, but most of the time you will find that you have more in common with someone from another political party than you may think. This bipartisanship in everyday life will transfer to Washington. Elected officials act based on how they believe their constituency will react. If everyday people are pushing for more bipartisanship and less extremism in politics, the politicians will follow.
Brianna is a junior Political Science and French double major.