Imagine an elephant and a donkey sit down to answer the question: What is 1+1?
The elephant says 2, and the donkey says a window. They both saw the same thing, but the elephant saw it as a math problem, and the donkey saw it as a drawing.
Partisan politics is similar. Differing parties have always believed in differing ideologies, but increasingly, they also believe in differing sets of facts. This has become much worse due to the polarizing influence of the Trump administration, which has coined the terms “alternative facts” and “fake news.”
Most of the time, these disagreements seem inconsequential, such as Trump’s false reports of having the biggest inauguration crowd ever. But partisan disagreements over fact and fiction can hold up the creation of life-saving legislation and can be directly blamed for the further loss of American life.
I am referring to the pandemic of school shootings in the United States. It doesn’t matter who you vote for — no one wants children to be gunned down. But, just like the question about 1+1, both parties have different perspectives on the issue.
Liberals tend to blame the issue on easy access to guns and advocate for strict gun control — regardless of how that would infringe upon the Second Amendment. Conservatives blame the issue on mental health and see any gun regulation as a threat to their freedom.
Both sides have merit, but by not accepting all the facts at hand, both are doing Americans a great disservice. Our Constitution is the basis of our government and undermining that on one occasion would make it easier to do so again. This prospect should be terrifying to all Americans, because if our Second Amendment rights can be taken away, any and all of them can be taken away.
Regardless, Democrats and Republicans much reach a compromise because, while the Constitution protects our right to bear arms, the Declaration of Independence states the commitment of the government to secure the unalienable right of life. And, even then, do we need a piece of paper written three centuries ago to tell us that we shouldn’t just let people die? We all know that to let school shootings to continue is a failure and a stain upon America.
Holding up legislation is thanks to stubborn politicians and their partisan politics. They are arguing over the solution to a problem before even agreeing what the problem is — is it mental health? Easy access to guns? Failing school security?
While they bicker, no practical steps are being taken to prevent tragedy from striking again, and we can only send our thoughts and their prayers to the victims and their families of shootings. Thoughts and prayers are a start, but they are not good enough. The United States has experienced 1,377 school shootings since 1970 and has passed zero laws offering a comprehensive solution.
Before any attempt at solution can be made all parties must accept the same facts. Our present political climate of extreme partisanship only makes this more difficult. But it is crucial that a bipartisan group is assembled to research the issue and to conclude what the facts of the matter are, and write a report detailing the root causes of school shootings. From there, we have a chance at honest debate and hopefully, compromise.
Partisanship just doesn’t make sense when we want the same thing. Everyone wants themselves and the people they care about to be happy and healthy. To do that, you and the people you care about have to be alive. School shootings, mass shootings and all other kinds of gun violence are a huge threat to that. While we may disagree on how to deal with that threat, that should not stop us from trying. Compromise is hard but it is necessary.
Harry Quick ([email protected]) is a freshman studying economics.