Polarization is dividing our government and our nation

In this Jan. 21, 2018, file photo, lights illuminate the U.S. Capitol on second day of the federal shutdown as lawmakers negotiate behind closed doors in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

If you watch or read the news, it will come as no surprise to you that polarization is manifested in our government, but exactly how deeply does it affect us? On Jan. 20, 2018, the government shut down after a Senate bill approving a one-month spending bill was rejected. Prior to the shutdown, Democrats were attempting to bring attention to the fact that they needed to come up with a plan to protect the Dreamers, children who were illegally brought to the United States at a very young age. After all, President Donald Trump had only given Congress until March to come up with a replacement for DACA, an immigration policy that essentially protected the Dreamers from deportation. The Democrats used this time where the Senate was discussing the impending need to fund the government to force Senate to discuss the need of a new replacement for DACA.

Now, this is where polarization is shown to be the root of the government shutdown. The Democratic party advocates for an immigration policy that allows immigrants to enter the country within reason since they believe immigrants were the foundation on which this country was built. On the opposition, the Republican Party believes that the border needs to be secured and immigration policies need to be tightened to protect the rights of American citizens, while still allowing a controlled number of legal immigrants to enter the country. In knowing the Republican views on immigration, Democrats grew nervous that this issue would not be addressed and decided that this time, devoted to reach a compromise on the stopgap funding bill, would be an ideal opportunity to bring it to attention. President Donald Trump showed his evident disapproval for the way Democrats brought attention to the issue by tweeting, "[Democrats] could have easily made a deal but decided to play Shutdown politics instead."  

As a result of the failure to reach a compromise between Republicans and Democrats, government workers whose agencies were deemed non-essential were forced to not work, since the agencies they worked for would close. During the 2013 government shutdown, over 800,000 employees could not work and were placed on furlough. Additionally, while the military is deemed essential, those involved, especially those in combat, would work without pay. This polarization within the government affected the jobs of many government workers, but this is not the only case in which polarization negatively affects large groups of people.

Take those advocating for women’s rights; polarization is forcing them to take matters into their own hands through the means of protests and marches. Democrats are typically known to support pro-choice while on the other hand, Republicans support pro-life. President Donald Trump has also spoken publically about this matter when he was initially running for presidency when he said that women who had an abortion need to be subject to “some form of punishment." So far, this year, a bill has been working its way through the legislative branch that would criminalize abortion after twenty weeks. Ultimately, the bill only garnered 51 votes, failing to reach the 60 votes it needed in order to be approved by the Senate. This sensitive debate has been the subject of numerous protests, which is illustrated through posters from the Women’s March on Washington 2018 stating, “My body, not yours” and “Keep your hands and laws off my body." If the government is too polarized to the point where they can't agree on whether or not they should allow women to have rights to their bodies, activists have consistently shown that they will take matters into their own hands.

It is difficult to imagine a government which is not polarized and in harmony since each political party holds their respective yet differing opinions. Especially throughout the course of President Donald Trump's remaining years in office, levels of polarization will continue to be high due to the way he addresses certain issues and people. It would be impossible to offer that we as students and citizens could agree on everything, but at the very least, if our government cannot be in harmony, we must at least be respectful of the differing opinions of our peers to maintain peace.


Stephanie Rovirosa is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at stephanie.rovirosa@uconn.edu.