John Adams wrote that the best “political evil” of a democracy was the emergence of “two nice events, every organized below its chief, and concerting measures in opposition to one another.” In his farewell handle, George Washington described the “spirit of social gathering” as democracy’s worst enemy.
In a world the place political discourse usually devolves into advert hominem assaults, it’s apparent why the founders feared social gathering formation. This divisiveness has seeped into each side of our lives — from the media we devour to the individuals with whom we join. Political polarization additionally contributes to tribalism, by which people turn into extra carefully aligned with an ideological group and look at the “different facet” as their enemy.
UT should put together its future leaders to mitigate political dysfunction. By incorporating discussions about polarization and tribalism in its authorities and historical past courses, UT can empower college students to handle these challenges head-on and promote empathy inside its scholar physique.
Historical past professor Henry W. Manufacturers defined the significance of understanding tribalism’s roots inside human nature and its nuance all through United States historical past.
“So, it’s totally potential that people, by nature, type themselves into tribes,” Manufacturers mentioned. “And what varies every now and then is what the markers of these tribes change. I believe these days (tribal) identification is extra overtly political than it has usually been previously. These markers previously — faith, race, class — nonetheless affect individuals, however we stay in a time the place there’s limitless politicization of all the things.”
It’s vital to notice that subscribing to a selected ideology or belonging to a sure social gathering will not be essentially dangerous. Actually, becoming a member of teams that help causes we’re enthusiastic about is commonly useful. However when our beliefs restrict us from understanding opposing viewpoints and stop compromise, the hazards of political polarization turn into obvious.
Brian Peña, vp of College Democrats, defined how opposing viewpoints in extremely political authorities courses are essential.
“You’re going to take plenty of (authorities) courses at UT the place you’re going to be surrounded by individuals which might be form of going to push you a technique,” Pena mentioned. “There are some authorities courses which might be discussing actually polarizing (subjects). In these conditions, you must be capable to craft curriculum round the concept that you expose college students (to opposing views).”
Jackson Paul, co-chairman of the UT chapter of Younger Conservatives of Texas, mentioned historical past courses ought to warn college students in regards to the risks of political polarization.
“You may see that plenty of what took down the Roman Republic was polarization. … You may’t run society like that in the long term,” Paul mentioned. “I believe that if we’ve historical past courses that target how these free societies collapsed, I positively assume it could assist individuals perceive that America must keep away from (polarization).”
Authorities and historical past are inextricably interrelated. We will achieve priceless insights on political polarization from understanding historic republics just like the Roman Republic, classical Athens and historic Carthage. This educational method can present additional context for understanding polarization’s implications right this moment. Participating with these complexities within the classroom can even encourage college students to assume critically in regards to the info they devour, the beliefs they maintain and the assumptions they make.
By serving to college students perceive how a wholesome democracy works, UT can encourage its future leaders to deal with points with empathy and understanding. Discussing the intricacies of polarization and tribalism in authorities and historical past courses is an funding in our society’s future.
Muyeed is an economics sophomore from Southlake, TX.