We The People: How The Public Can Push Back on Polarization


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — We’ve covered a lot of ground in our We The People series, and now our political analyst, Dr. Brian Calfano, and David Oliver share some closing thoughts.

Our latest Courageous Conversation: We The People highlights several areas where our nation and government are at an impasse.

Now comes the chance to think through some ways the public can push back on polarization. These are mere suggestions-food for thought-and certainly not an exhaustive list.

The first is to demand an end to partisan control over drawing house district boundaries. These district lines are reconfigured after every census, in most cases by the party in control of the state legislature.

This means that the parties get to create districts that benefit their candidates. The worst examples of party drawn boundary lines have a name: gerrymandered, and these districts create incentives for politicians to appeal to a homogenous base of voters, with little motive to seek compromise.
We the people should call for an end to these party-drawn boundaries, and, instead, have them replaced with non-partisan commissions in every state.

The second is to remember that not all media outlets are created equal. Though you may like a particular source of information and agree with it much of the time, no single source is infallible.

More importantly, several forms of media, including cable news and talk radio, often don’t follow the same standards of verification that stations like KOLR 10 must do as part of our commitment to you, our viewers. Now, this doesn’t mean we’re always correct in our reporting, but, when we’re wrong, we own up to it and work to make it right.

KOLR 10 is also not in the business of pushing a political ideology or party viewpoint. We believe our viewers are best served by balanced coverage of issues important to them, and we can’t imagine a time when our news will be dictated by a corporate or political theme. We the people should demand similar accountability from all news media.

Third, it’s key to remember that the political parties of today were never part of our founders’ intent when they established the republic.

Though people have always had political differences, the assumption was that no single faction would get powerful enough to dominate the system. This has been replaced with the reality of the two factions of today, namely the Democratic and Republican parties. They have monopolized American politics for generations to the detriment of our republic.

The menu of a two-party selection in any given election doesn’t serve the public interest. There are many reasons for this two-party dominance, including campaign finance laws and winner take all election rules that almost always give candidates with the most votes all the spoils of office-even when election returns show the so-called “winner” has less than half the votes cast. Now, there’s nothing sacred about this two-party monopoly. If anything, it has encouraged polarization and win-at-all-cost politics.

But the good news in all of this is that We The People have the power to push our elected officials to make changes that will reform our system in ways that can support a more perfect union.

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