Nowadays, whenever someone spouts their political stance on an issue, the assumption is that they are either right or left-wing then steer the argument on an attack on their entire political wing which involves stereotypes and childish name-calling.
Therefore, why couldn’t an informed citizen take points from all sides and make their own conclusion without being forcibly placed in a political faction?
There are two main reasons why politics is being polarised and simplified – political parties and the media.
Let’s take an example, in the United States of America, there are two main parties that have dominated the political scene for the past two centuries and have been interchanging the seat of power, the Democrats and the Republicans.
Many Americans identify themselves in one party or the other and rarely change. The Democrats are seen as the left-wing party and the Republicans as right-wing but within both parties, there is a whole range of stances from the extreme end of the spectrum to the centre where both parties’ ideology sometimes overlap.
However, it is rare for an American to associate themselves to both factions but the political stance of the parties has not always been the same.
President Abraham Lincoln is viewed by many as the President who saved the Union and help abolish slavery but he represented the Republican Party in the Northern states while the Democrat Party were associated with the Southern States who wanted less of a federal oversight in their states.
Over time, the two political parties flipped with the Republicans being associated with less state intervention. Consequently, the Great Depression damaged the Republican Party’s image with President Hoover’s stance on non-intervention was disgruntled by many citizens, therefore, Democrat nominee, Franklin D. Roosevelt won the 1932 elections and implemented government-led policies like the New Deal which the ex-President, Hoover criticised Roosevelt’s policies as socialistic and fascistic, echoing today arguments.
Nonetheless, government intervention saved the country’s financial system and brought many American out of unemployment. Hence, both parties adopted similar policies to win the election until the 1970s when government intervention led to a stagnating economy and high inflation and unemployment, therefore, in the 1980s, the Republican President, Ronald Reagan set the precedent of the Party up today, deregulation and privatisation.
Consequently, this is the same period when the media began to change. News channels started to favour one party over the other to gain a greater audience share but with the introduction of the internet and cable television, news channels like Fox and CNN began to and adopted the 24-hour cycle.
Unlike in the United Kingdom, where the British Broadcast Company or more commonly known as the BBC is state owned, news channels in the United States are private companies, therefore, they rely on the number of people watching.
Hence, to boost the number of people watching they simplify the political arguments of their favoured party while ridiculing the opposing side.