By: Maria Martirosyan
“A House divided cannot stand” – Abraham Lincoln
As Executive Interns at the Armenian National Committee of America, Western Region office, my fellow interns and I have multiple responsibilities and deadlines which we must meet on a weekly basis. Besides writing blogs, managing the twitter account, producing media reports, answering telephone calls, meeting with elected officials, and working extensive hours at events, interns are responsible for completing a main project – and that is taking the Hye Votes project to the streets of Los Angeles and getting eligible Armenian-Americans registered to vote.
It has been an interesting experience registering individuals to vote. From the many different things that have occurred during my time registering people, one thing that has captured my attention on multiple occasions is section 9 of the voter registration form. This section requires the individual to fill in the oval of the political party they are affiliated with and as expected, most people filled in the oval for either the “Democratic Party” or the “Republican Party”.
More often than not, people make their decision of which political party to belong to based on the influence of their family members, peers, and other social influences. It seems as if so many people are slow to think and quick to act upon choosing what political party to affiliate themselves with and are blind to see the harms caused by labeling oneself with any one political party.
In his 1796 farewell address, President George Washington warned Americans against the formation of political parties. He realized that polarized politics would result in aggression and hatred amongst the politicians and people, ultimately dividing the country. Yet still Americans chose to support and go by the system of political parties, and as foreseen by George Washington, the political parties became as polarized as can be – engaging in intense rhetoric and actions that cause lasting hostility, hate, and turmoil. Till this day, such rivalry hinders cooperation between political parties and the ability of reaching consensus on important political matters.
Battling it out on the playing field, political parties have become much like sports teams, and the voters have become loyal fans of one team or the other – usually despising the opposing team. This is generally true because when an individual joins a one political party, they automatically dislike the other and once election season arrives, people almost never consider voting for candidates from another party due to the mindset of “us against them”. This mindset which causes antagonism towards candidates of other political parties and stops voters from truly evaluating political candidates based on who they really are and their stand on political issues. It is important for people to understand that not all candidates have pure leftist views or pure rightest views and it is imperative that voters really take time educating themselves about each candidate prior to voting. As well, it is critical that voters comprehend that they should not feel obligated to vote within a certain political party. Instead, I strongly urge that voters choose candidates based on the individual they are and their stand on political issues – making each individual candidate responsible for the representation of themselves, not a party.