“Two truths are all too often overshadowed in today’s political discourse: Public service is a most honorable pursuit, and so is bipartisanship.” – Former U.S. Senator from Maine, Olympia Snowe
The political climate between Republicans and Democrats right now in Washington, DC is red hot. “Political enthusiasm” from one party is criticized by the opposing party, and we continue to hear phrases like “political polarization” and the “partisan divide.”
What used to be “political enthusiasm” that incited political engagement and activism has now morphed into full on disdain for those with opposing views. In 2016, Pew Research Center revealed findings that 58 percent of politically active Republicans said that Democrats make them feel angry. Funny enough, 58 percent of politically active Democrats said the same of Republicans. The numbers nearly match when these same political activists are asked about how they view people of the opposite political party.
This is a problem.
Bipartisan compromises used to drive progress in America. One of my favorite modern political history books, Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked, tells of the relationship between then Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill. These two politically opposite leaders forged compromises on issues including welfare, taxes, foreign policy, Social Security, and more.
The same can be said of Democratic President Bill Clinton and Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich. Republican President George W. Bush and Senator Ted Kennedy worked together extensively as well.
History has proven that bipartisan compromise works.
Sadly, during the recent elections many people let politics come before relationships. We all witnessed people with opposing political views attack each other over candidates and viewpoints. This does nothing for our communities.
At LS2group, we like to say we are a “Bipartisan Utopia.” Every single day I get to work with Liberal Democrats and Conservative Republicans on an array of issues. We discuss issues and different viewpoints without it becoming a political Facebook comment section throw down.
At the end of the day, bipartisan friendships make each and every one of us better. As a Conservative Republican, my Liberal Democrat friends and coworkers challenge my views and encourage me to look at issues and the world differently, and I do the same for them. Of course we occasionally disagree, but at the end of the day we can go grab a drink and be friends.
This should be the norm.
Despite the never-ending social media comment wars between Republicans and Democrats and the polarizing media frenzy on both ends of the political spectrum, relationships should transcend politics.
As human beings, we are designed for human relationships and working together to better our communities. It should not matter if you have an “R” or a “D” next to your name. People are people first.
Personally, I have far more Liberal friends than Conservative, and I truly believe this makes me better at my job and a more informed citizen.
So how do we maintain bipartisanship in this increasingly partisan world?
I challenge you to go have coffee, lunch, or a drink with someone different than you as often as you can. Listening to different worldviews only strengthens who we are. We can all work to make society better by engaging and treating everyone around us, no matter their background or political affiliation, with respect.