LEWIS: Red and blue shouldn’t be black and white

Bailey Lewis

I know you’re probably tired of hearing about politics. I am too. But this is something everyone in this country needs to understand.

One political cartoon shows Republicans playing with money like balls in a children’s ball pit. Another shows Democrats sitting around smoking pot while discussing new policies. You may think political cartoons that target one party or the other are funny. I’ve certainly laughed at my fair share. But they represent a growing problem in the United States: party segregation.

Nationally, the United States is split down the middle when it comes to political party ties, according to Bill Bishop of the American-Statesman. You may have seen the now well-known county-by-county map put out last year by Princeton’s Robert J. Vanderbei. The map is titled “Purple America,” and it attempts to show how the country is not split politically. However, if you look, there are still a heck of a lot of purely red and purely blue counties on that map.

And, locally, we are more divided than ever, Bishop said. He used the same calculations employed to determine racial disproportion in the United States, and found that political party segregation rose 47 percent from 1976 to 2000.

That means almost half the population that identify themselves with either one political party or the other has moved since 1976 to a neighborhood where more people have the same political views.

This is particularly a problem for those of us in Iowa. Brian C. Mooney of the Boston Globe says Iowa “reflects the national schism.”

For this reason, and because we’re first for presidential caucuses, we need to be particularly wary of how political segregation is affecting our state and our country.

A main reason for political segregation is the way the political parties think about each other. There is no effort between parties to compromise or listen to one another’s ideas because each party believes it is absolutely right and the other is utterly wrong.

Like political cartoons, the campaign ads that all the candidates run don’t help one party’s opinion of the other. Candidates from both sides use their advertisements not to state their own ideals, but to attack the other party. I know you’ve seen these ads before, and you’ll see them again this time around. You’ll see them from Republicans.

You’ll see them from Democrats. You’ll see them from Hillary Clinton. You’ll see them from Rudy Giuliani. I don’t know about you, but I want to know what my potential president stands for, not how well they can put down someone else.

Most politicians never directly state what they stand for, but that doesn’t really make a difference. A lot of people tend to just vote for someone in their party without bothering to find out what their stance is on the issues. And most people certainly don’t care to know what the candidates from the other party believe in. They’d probably fall over dead if they ever bothered to look and found they agreed with someone from the other side.

Many college students (and most of the country) identify with one political party or the other. There’s nothing wrong with that. Party ties don’t present a problem until a certain point. But we have reached that point.

Our country cannot function without compromise or the exchange of ideas between the parties. We won’t do well if we become so closed minded toward one political party that we continue to move away from one another.

You’re going to be seeing more and more cartoons and ads as the impending election draws nearer. Don’t let them influence you.

And take the time to figure out which candidate you agree with, even if they don’t belong to your party. You’re voting for the next president, not homecoming king. Choose wisely.

– Bailey Lewis is a sophomore in English from Indianola.