Kristin Kittell | Assistant Perspectives Editor

Prior to the local elections in 2010, I discussed with a friend the choices we would make when it came time to cast our votes. Regrettably, I hadn’t spent much time considering the attributes of the candidates and had little more than vague name recognition to go by. A combination of up-bringing and personal bias bred the words that came out of my mouth that morning: If you’re not sure who to pick, just choose the Republican.”

This was possibly the dumbest thing I’ve ever said. I’ve always considered myself a right-wing Republican, defending the moves of the GOP and holding true to the confines of the politicians representing it. This, I’ve learned, is a sad way to approach politics. Attaching to a party inherently means attaching to each and every belief it adheres to, as well as each and every flamboyant persona who claims the same loyalty.

While I would likely follow the likes of Ronald Reagan and John McCain through the Sahara desert, I’d prefer my name not be mentioned in a sentence with Sarah Palin or Richard Nixon. And though I greatly abhor the works of Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, I’ll never forget the way it felt to read the words of Franklin Roosevelt following the tragedy of Pearl Harbor. I don’t care that FDR was a Democrat, and when Americans remember the Great Depression, they don’t care either. Years from now when our children study the election of 2008, they won’t be reading a Democrat beat a Republican. They’ll be reading Barack Obama became our president on the platform of change.

It’s important to realize though Obama represented the Democratic Party in that election, he did not share every ideal typified with the party at that point in time. On the issue of gay marriage, for instance, he was in the corner of legalizing civil unions. Likewise, though John McCain was the Republican candidate for that election, he was also in the corner of civil union, rather than the outlawing of gay unions altogether, as some voters believed. But people don’t research the issues; they wrongly assume things of their candidates based on their respective party affiliation.

The validity of our voting system is compromised when voters do not do their homework. The issue with party affiliation lies in the political abuse of it. Legitimate concerns take a backseat to the mud-slinging attacks made by one party on another. Representatives from either side are poised and ready to stand in opposition to anything the other proposes, purely on the grounds they proposed it. No one wants to trade the upper hand for a chance to do any good. In President Obama’s most recent State of the Union Address, an overwhelming amount of media attention was paid to the fact the parties had, for the first time, chosen not to segregate for the speech.

Democrats and Republicans sat beside each other, reluctantly cheering when they heard something that would further their party’s agenda. While I’m in favor of this integration, it is hard to ignore the reason for it in the first place. Obama was aware that his predominantly Democratic government had recently had a significant addition of Republican members, and he was forced to extend a hand to the ideas of the party he opposed. Through gritted teeth, he attempted to accept them in his speech, and his discomfort was painfully obvious.

Now we’ve melted our government together like a blended cheese pizza, we’re told to fear the possibility nothing will ever again be accomplished because our elite will never again agree on anything.

If we’re being completely honest with ourselves, we can accept the fact this is not because Congress is divided down the middle with people with identical set of morals on either side. It is because Congress is indeed divided down the middle by the fear of being out of control.

If one side compromises, the other might have a win, and in a world that’s constantly in a state of impending disaster, we simply cannot afford to lose a second of dominance. I’d like a government that works for the people, instead of in opposition to each other. I’d like a media that shares all of the news, rather than shielding the public from things that might sway their party affiliation.

Fox News, Democrats are not walking demons, and they’re not angels either. I’d like a society that can see through all the political banter and find the issues. If we can do that, maybe we can create a government that represents us, rather than themselves. TAS