There are times when party rivalries must be set aside for the greater good of the people — Britain and America have entered that stage
American writer Walter Kirn states:
‘Memo to extreme partisans: If you can’t bring yourselves to love your enemies, can you at least learn to hate your friends?’
A disparaging criticism to the endorsers of political partisanship and a thesis that can be used in light of events today. Building on Kirn’s view I believe political partisanship remains a big threat to Western democracies and successful governance. It is true, parties must remain loyal and appear united as ultimately politics is competitive. Quickly approaching both the UK and the US are the unavoidable events of the EU Referendum and the result of the Republican Party Presidential campaign. Both are receiving unreasonable levels of partisanship in times when the stakes are too high to appear united. The opinion here is that the rooted devotion of many officials to their own party has gone too far. Notice this is not a call for a return to catch-all parties, just a wish for politicians in both the UK and the USA to put their own desires ahead of their party’s.
In the UK, we face a momentous referendum on the 23rd of June with such significant consequences that they can hardly be ignored. I hold no reservations in committing myself to being desperate to remain in the EU this year, next year and for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, the In campaign faces an unattractive opposition with the Leave campaign, known as ‘Brexit’. This portmanteau to me seems onomatopoeic, a rushed combination of two words that just sounds undesirable, not dissimilar from the actual campaign.
The statements that have come from the Brexit camp and, in particular, Ian Duncan-Smith about the chances of another Paris-style attack need the be nullified — messages of fear often become effective in their purpose. The future of Britain’s youngest is at hand with the result of this referendum, and never have they relied more heavily on those fighting to stay In to provide a strong campaign that leaves nothing to chance.
With this, I was left frustrated yet not surprised when Hilary Benn refused to share a platform with David Cameron to remain in the EU. In an interview with the BBC in February the Shadow Chancellor said: ‘We (the Labour Party) make our own arguments in our own way’ and ‘the Prime Minister can do the same in his way with his party and the people he is seeking to persuade’. Benn’s refusal to stand next to Cameron to keep the UK within the common market is inherently irresponsible. I ask Hilary Benn, if what you want is for the UK to remain in Europe then aren’t you and the Prime Minister seeking to persuade the same people?
For many, Cameron is the face of Britain’s In campaign and his word is very likely to hold the most influence, since he is the Prime Minister. With a referendum result as consequential as this one, there was hope for a break in party politics and one single message coming from both the left and right to remain.
It is well-documented that since Corbyn’s election, the atmosphere between the two main British parties has been unsavoury. However, this is not a case of insulting one-liners about buying a proper suit or singing the national anthem; this concerns unsavoury decisions being made by our politicians that can gravely affect our future. If parties political arrogance or petty dislike for each other puts my generation or the rest of the nation’s future at risk, then they must change their stance or it would be an unforgivable misjudgement.
Now, to the US where at the moment there is the serious threat of Donald Trump. Trump-mania is a topic I have refrained from writing on as it is so well covered. However, with the recent endorsements of previous competitors I have had to include his campaign in this more general point. January 2013, Public Policy Polling produced a poll showing what was more popular than Congress. According to the poll, Congress was now less popular than root canals, head lice and cockroaches. Amongst this entire list of non-serious yet unpopular things was also Donald Trump. How ironic it is that now he sits as the frontrunner for the Grand Old Party in the presidential election.
But now just this month Ben Carson, having pulled out of running for the presidency himself, has endorsed Donald Trump. Trump being the same man who in February this year repeatedly referred to Carson as Obama. Knowingly or unknowingly it does not matter, Trump intended to insult Carson whether this be of a political or racial nature. Meanwhile, in the same month Carson attacked Trump and his voters. When appearing on ‘The Eric Metaxas Show’, Carson joked that supporters of his rival Donald Trump are like zombies. Then, the following month Carson endorses the very same man with whom he had been sharing sharp insults. Although different to Benn’s refusal to stand with Cameron over the EU Referendum, Carson has showed the same weaknesses. He has sacrificed the future of many in the name of the Republican Party and their desperation to return to the White House.
So what does all this mean for us as voters and members of the West? Unfortunately, it could mean a whole lot if both situations go the wrong way. An independent Britain, fighting for its future alone while potentially allied to an America that is so right-wing it could certainly no longer even consider calling itself the ‘Leaders of the Free World’.
Across the West political parties continue to offer a more politically diverse scenario. We at the moment in the UK are enjoying a period of political polarisation as Jeremy Corbyn and David Cameron remain as different in personality, policy and values as can be imagined. It’s certainly refreshing, but both parties’ commitment to ‘what they stand for’ can very reasonably become threatening. In the face of considerably significant events approaching the West, there is a need to put away pride in one’s own party and become united to achieve what’s right for us, the public.