Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series in which members of the Tufts community discuss the Biden administration’s domestic policies and polarization in American politics.
When people discuss the current state of American politics, some clichés pop up. inflammation. Split. Desensitization. The political experience of many Americans contains these traits, especially in a year when major political developments take place almost daily, and it can be exhausting to care, let alone endure listening.
As Joe Biden’s presidency enters another major hurdle 2022 midterm elections is playing Democratic majorities in the House and Senate are in jeopardy. Political hatred intensifies. Pew Research Center It was reported in August that negative partisanship is intensifying, with most Democrats and Republicans viewing opposition voters as ”narrow heart,” “dishonest,” “immoral” and”not smart. ”
Not only is negative partisanship worsening, but so is political violence. as a Center for Strategic and International Studies outline The percentage of domestic terrorist incidents has increased substantiallyand white supremacists and Various far right extremists conduct 49% constitutes all attacks and far-left terrorists 40%in 2021 Domestic Attacks.
What can Democrats and Republicans agree on in a politically turbulent America? In fact, a considerable amount, A greater degree of civic dialogue is possible, as the leaders of the Tufts political group have pointed out.
First, the Tufts Democratic and Republican student leaders Indicates an alert Exceed climate change intensifies and The urgency of addressing UN issues Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced Emergency situations.
in this case, Trent Bunkervice president tufts republican, admit The Biden administration’s efforts to combat climate change.
“As far as the Biden administration is concerned, I would also say [Biden] Some important steps have been taken…but his work on climate, [is] Maybe not for the way we want to address climate change, because it’s one of the biggest threats we face as a nationn,” bunker Say. “exist At least he recognizes that these things are the problem…he has taken steps to fix it.“
Echoing Bunker’s mood, Mark Lannigan, chairman of the Tufts Democratic Party, expected that more people Action will be taken across the political spectrum to tackle climate change.
“I think climate change is becoming more and more obvious to everyone,” Lannigan said. “I think more and more people are going to get on the positive climate action train. Because even in Republican states now, we keep seeing climate mitigation efforts…I think, these are baby steps in [addressing] climate crisis. “
During this discussion, policy similarities emerged between Lannigan and Bunker. In discussing solutions to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change, both sides articulated Their support for develop nuclear energy. OneAlthough Americans have markedly different views on nuclear energy, some energy Policy experts increasingly see nuclear energy as a complementary component to combating climate change. both bunker and Lannigan Take the latter approach.
in this regard, Lannigan Citing the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s goal of taking appropriate climate action before climate-related conditions worsen.
“our first goal [is] 2030 without earth on fire, so I think that means taking a proactive approach,” Lannigan Say. “I Think nuclear energy is…the fastest way for us to get there.It’s not meant to replace solar or wind…but specifically I just don’t think we’re investing enough in nuclear options. “
Similarly, bunker Positive reviews of nuclear energy Climate Change Mitigation Strategies.
“Nuclear is a very promising avenue,” Bunker said. “There are fewer deaths per unit of energy output than any other form of energy, and nuclear power plants emit less radiation than coal-fired power plants. So we see a lot of potential down the road.”
However, through the dialogue, the policy differences between the two also became apparent.included in the discussion Inflation Reduction ActBiden signed into law in August 2022, bunker Critic that its electric vehicle investments are misguided to fight climate change.
“A lot of the climate money in this bill goes to these electric vehicle subsidies, which are only for certain types of vehicles,” Bunker said. “These types of vehicles will only benefit people with higher income distributions. Electric vehicles…are unsustainably mined from lithium from regions of the world where child labor is rampant. … So this [electric vehicle] push is a bit misguided now. “
In contrast, Lannigan Sharet Biden’s The implementation of the IRA is a step in the right direction towards bolder environmental policies in the future. also, Lannigan quote The Green New Deal is an environmental policy initiative that has become a mainstay of democratic politics and is necessary to advance climate policy .
“I do think we should celebrate the steps we’ve taken along the way, and I think [the IRA] is a very good first step to investing in climate legislation,” Lannigan said. “I think more and more Democrats are getting on the Green New Deal train as well…I think we’ve come to realize that with the environmental justice community as the A centric approach to climate is popular, as is a workforce-centric approach to the environment. ”
Another domestic issue this has become more controversial In the past year Biden administration Yes reproductive rights. Since Dobbs v. Jackson overthrow This Constitutional right to abortion in June, Republican-run states have implemented stricter abortion bans.
Recently, the Arizona Superior Court Judge Kelly Johnson ruling on the 1901 abortion ban, There is an exception where forced childbirth threatens the mother’s life, which can be enforced in the stateBy contrast, Democratic-run states are enacting abortion protections. Connecticut Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont signed a bill in May that would provide protections for abortion providers and out-of-state travelers who want an abortion but can’t have it legally in their home country.
While discussing abortion with the Daily Mail, bunker He expressed support For out-of-state travelers seeking abortion.
“For example, if a woman … goes from Texas to Massachusetts and wants an abortion, she shouldn’t face penalties in Texas — that’s ridiculous,” Bunker said. “[Out-of-state abortion penalties are] blatantly unconstitutional. “
In addition, Bunker publicly objected to Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina recently proposed Protect unborn children with capacity for pain from late-term abortion laws. If signed into law, the bill would enact a nationwide ban on abortion in 15 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest and physical danger to a mother’s life, The New York Times reported.
bunker Elaborating on his objections to Senator Graham’s proposal, which he sees as a “political game.”
“I would say it’s rather hypocritical [Republican] one party [have states’ rights] become a slogan of opposition Roe v Wade Over the past 50 years, all of a sudden, Graham [proposes] This 15-week ban,” Bunker said.
for Lannigan, Ultimately, Biden and Democratic leaders will need to further protect and guarantee abortion rights across the country. In this view, Lannigan Quote Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s RRecent proposals recommend that the Justice Department consider providing reproductive health care, including the possibility of abortion, on federal property.
“I think the government can go further [protecting abortion rights],” Lannigan said. “There’s a lot of federal lands across the country that either have abortion bans in place or are going through abortion bans…you can rent out abortion clinics [at a federal level] …we should pursue that. “
Further comparison bunker, Lannigan didn’t see this Graham’s proposal is Hypocrisy to Republicans.
“I don’t think it’s all about Republican hypocrisy because I think that’s always been their plan,” Lannigan said. “I don’t think that under any circumstances will there be a national overthrow of abortion as a right and no subsequent proposal to ban it.”
Most importantly, Lannigan Calls on Democrats to pass legislative efforts to enshrine abortion protections into law Roe v. Wade.
“I also think Democrats should take their own legislative action on this, which is to make abortion a right across the country, in Congress,” Lannigan asserted. “[Democrats] Ability to do it now. They have a majority in the House of Representatives… [and] a 50-50 [in the Senate] with the vice president [vote to break a tie] …it’s something they didn’t pass, but it’s something they should definitely pass. ”
Overall, these conversations at Tufts have produced a keen awareness of political polarization that reflects national trends. The abandonment of compromise due to shortsighted partisanship further fuels political tensions, which in turn puts goodwill on the back burner. In this case, differences tend to win out, even if they have something in common.
The issue is Magali Ortiz is all too clear. Ortiz is co-chair of Civic Partnership and Innovation, a nonpartisan Tufts organization whose website says it promotes “meaningful political discussions on campus and in the surrounding community.”
Ortiz Shared her personal observations revealing the political polarization across the country.
“I’m someone who has been friends with people from different political spheres all my life…but it’s interesting to see people in the past…who disagreed with you in some way…farther and farther…’Deep, ‘” Ortiz said.
Growing up in a family that traveled the world and valued critical thinking, Ortiz She added that she has come to understand the importance of balance and compromise, even as political divisions have grown bitter.Ortiz noticed the existence of what she called an “echo chamber” reiterate and perpetuate one’s point of view.
Such echo chambers, Ortiz explained, can dampen constructive conversations and exacerbate people’s differences when similarities should be emphasized.for Ortiz, what is needed is more conversations that go out of people’s comfort zones. She emphasized that in a divided America, true understanding can be achieved through these conversations.
“I think a big thing is knowing when to recognize that you’re in a bubble and be able to push yourself out of it,” Ortiz said. “I was thinking about a conversation I had in a bagel shop a few weeks ago, and I just had a conversation with this police officer who works in Medford… [a different take than] You’ll see it from most students, you’ll be talking to them on campus… [and so] A really important thing is to feel uncomfortable. “