Extreme Partisanship vs. Rational Thought
Partisanship is what gives shape to democracy. It gives voice to opinions, convictions and concerns about the form and function of our government. It provides the intellectual and sometimes the emotional framework of our society and culture.
As political beings we tend to form into groups of broadly like minded individuals. We find comfort in knowing that within our group there is a level of trust that we will stand with each other on certain fundamentals and defend against individuals and groups that oppose us. We realize that standing alone we are impotent and voiceless. As a partisan we contribute to the shaping of group thought, and our own opinions and judgements are enhanced by the input of others.
In the United States most people with a political conscience fit roughly into groups defined as the political left or right, also known as Liberal (progressive) and Conservative or Democrats and Republicans.
Philosophically Democrats and Republicans are generally divided by opinions regarding the function of the Constitution, freedom vs. equality, the size of government and the regulation of free enterprise. More specifically, rational individuals and groups on both sides of the political divide are split over a variety of social issues, foreign relations, management of natural resources, the role of religion in society, etc.
Rational partisanship fosters productive discussions and sees the pursuit of agreement as the only worthwhile goal in all political inter-actions. A major problem arises when extreme partisanship rears its ugly head and negates any attempt by reasonable people to finding reasonable solutions and common ground.
The extreme partisanship I’m talking about is a direct counter-point to rational thought. It is a senseless allegiance to one’s party label that transcends responsible positions and takes on the appearance of a spiritual fanaticism and replaces reason as a driving force. Gridlock is a natural consequence of extreme partisanship. Extreme partisanship is hateful, narrow minded and self defeating.