Political Polarization: What it Does, Why it’s Here and How to Stop it Political Polarization: What it Does, Why it’s Here and How to Stop it
BY ZACHARY PERROTTA Marine Le Pen was a symbol. Not just of change in French politics, but of a far larger morph in global... Political Polarization: What it Does, Why it’s Here and How to Stop it

BY ZACHARY PERROTTA

Marine Le Pen was a symbol. Not just of change in French politics, but of a far larger morph in global political identity. Moreover, her place on the world stage is not solitary; she stands shoulder to shoulder with leaders who could not be called pragmatic, rather, polarizing.

Marine Le Pen was a symbol. Not just of change in French politics, but of a far larger morph in global political identity. Moreover, her place on the world stage is not solitary; she stands shoulder to shoulder with leaders who could not be called pragmatic, rather, polarizing.

Not just of change in French politics, but of a far larger morph in global political identity. Moreover, her place on the world stage is not solitary; she stands shoulder to shoulder with leaders who could not be called pragmatic, rather, polarizing.

To begin; who is Marine Le Pen and why does she matter? Well, Le Pen was a right wing candidate to become the leader of France. She lost in a run off with Emmanuel Macron, the novice political head of the En Marche party of France, to become president and it was a close race, and that’s an understatement. Macron was at 23.9% of the vote in the first round of the election, while Le Pen acquired 21.4% of the vote. Though, when the final results came in, Macron won by a landslide.

That leaves the obvious and more important question: where did the other 54.7% go? After all, it’s logical to assume that the majority would win. To answer that, the two other candidates who both earned significant votes must be accounted for. Francois Fillon, a center-right French Republican, and Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the La France Insoumise party, consisting of the far-left French Democrat equivalents each earned about 19.7%. Keep in mind that France doesn’t have a two party system, instead, preferring a multi-party system in which, as of now, 4-5 parties hold prominence.

The message that these results convey is stunning and is mimicked all around the world: the extremes of the left and right wing are now gaining significant momentum. One of the two leading parties used to have trouble facing off against the larger better established and pragmatic centrists willing to work for compromise; now, the roles are reversed. In our nation, President Trump trampled his well-established competition in the primaries. Bernie Sanders, similarly, even gained an abundance of support in a party whose established leadership was, arguably, illicitly reducing his chances of victory. With the British exit from the European Union movement or BREXIT, figures like Nigel Farage sat at the helm of the debate and, though widely opposed by centrists, managed to succeed in winning the Brexit vote.

It is, therefore, clear that leaders towards each end of the political spectrum are gaining advantage simply because of their positions on issues. That, in turn, means that the opinions of the average citizen are experiencing a paradigm shift. The Pew Research Center confirmed just that in 2014 when they surveyed Americans on their political positions. The findings were astounding, with 27% of Democrats believing that the Republicans are a threat to national well-being with 36% of Republicans believing the same, but for Democrats. These results prove two points, the first of which is this article’s thesis: a significant political shift is and has been occurring, which is leading to the polarization of the world populous on the left to right spectrum. The second point provides the reasoning: this shift is based on hatred for the ‘other guy.’

In this context, the ‘other guy’ just refers to a perceived enemy. This perception leads to a realization: the polarization of candidates leads to an increased understanding of the ‘other guy’s’ existence. Sanders, for instance, ran on sayings such as “the system is rigged.” In that case, the system, specifically unregulated capitalism, was the enemy. Donald Trump ran on slogans such as “China is ripping us off on trade!” The paradigm is now far more clear: because an enemy was identified, the precise objective of combating that enemy was established.

Case in point: Trump vs. Clinton. Trump ran on a platform of pessimism, painting a dark and gloomy future for the U.S. while Clinton had to run on optimism for the future because she had to defend her Democratic predecessor, President Obama. In the process, Clinton threaded a fine line between saying the status quo is getting better, and that policies to reform it will be instituted within her administration. She did identify an enemy: Trump. However, that was a bad call. The electorate in any nation is not looking for a candidate who will base most of their platform on the elimination of a mortal enemy. If Trump had lost, he would have crawled back to Trump Tower, ceasing to be an enemy. Chinese trade policy, however, remains standing as a long-term issue affecting the nation.

Here’s the kicker: the opposition to Trump articulated, accurately so, that he had no policies to fix the problems he identified. That doesn’t matter. Confused? You should be. The underlying message is quite the oxymoron: polarized candidates identify an enemy that they don’t know how to beat, and the electorate credits them for doing so.

The impact of issues without solutions is blunt: they are not solved, just as other issues are ignored while all problems continue to accelerate in magnitude and scope. So, how can you address this issue? For starters, demand solutions, not problems, from potential leaders. And, secondly, do not buy into the hatred that polarizing candidates are selling. Whatever your opinions, the people of your nation all want what is best for it. Lastly, there are enemies of freedom in the world but pick your ‘other guy’ carefully, because if you choose wrong, you may end up fighting a friend, bringing depravity upon yourself and ignoring the real ‘other guy.’

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