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IR Insider is a production of NYU's International Relations Society. Our goal is to explain and discuss issues in IR in an engaging and thought-provoking fashion. We are written by students, for students, about issues students care about. 

[Op-Ed] Bipartisanship in 2018

Note: The following piece is written by Shannon Kandell, a writer from the MENA section, who attended the Politics Society event “Bipartisanship in 2018,” which was held on Sept. 19, 2018. Kandell shares her thoughts on the event and its central topic — the present state and future of bipartisanship in the U.S.

Students of all partisanships gathered to discuss the necessity of communication across party lines. Credit: Shannon Kandell

Students of all partisanships gathered to discuss the necessity of communication across party lines. Credit: Shannon Kandell

“Bipartisanship in 2018,” hosted by the Politics Society, began with an examination of our special responsibility as university students to keep an open mind. Our Congress is closed off to the opinions of the other party; it is an “us vs. them” mentality that is currently dominating political proceedings at the highest levels. We can question the consequences of this mentality. Are our officials acting in our best interest, or are they strictly aligning with their party to assure re-election? If we remain stuck in our party rather than aware of the opposing view, we not only blind ourselves to the hidden complexities of policy issues but hinder compromise. Our time in college is unique: it is a time to learn by exploring new points of view. Our peers are a primary resource, but we cannot learn from them if we shut down what they believe as inaccurate. We must recognize that partisanship has permeated every facet of our society, particularly the media from which we gather most of our “facts.” Through discussions with those on both the right and left, we can find that the truth lies in the middle.

However, at NYU, does this truth truly lie in the middle? NYU is certainly one of the most liberal institutions in the nation, and it is no secret that many of the faculty actively teach with a liberal bias. The consequence of this is that conservatives can at times feel discouraged to speak up out of fear of being attacked for their opinions that can be viewed by many as amoral. However, it is critical to acknowledge that morals are not universal; they are personal, and everyone has a right to their own set of values. We must draw the line between upholding our own values and attacking those of another. It is this immature reaction of attacking those for the opinions they hold, rather than seeking to learn from someone different from yourself, that discourages productive discussion.

Therefore, our responsibility as college students in an age that requires far more bipartisanship is to open our ears to the other side, and realize that partisanship is only part of our identity. Being liberal or conservative does not have to draw lines and break friendships, nor do categories of right or wrong fit seamlessly along party lines. We should always actively try to learn, rather than cement ourselves in a singular belief system. Hostility, of any kind, when someone shares their beliefs, is wrong. Intolerance is in itself ignorance. These problems are evident in our governing body, where compromise is an insurmountable challenge. Let us be the generation to change it, and find a middle ground through which to progress towards justice and equality.