Eric Stubben is a mechanical engineering junior and Mustang News conservative columnist. | Ian Billings/Mustang News

Eric Stubben

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Eric Stubben is a mechanical engineering junior and Mustang News conservative columnist. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News.

Every week after my brain recuperates from class, I squeak open the top drawer of my nightstand, scrounge out my “conservative columns” notebook and open to the next blank page. From there, I skim back through notes of whatever ran through my head over the past week and begin jotting down all my thoughts and researching some supporting facts. Just like that, a new column is born.

This week was different. I sat down, put my pen to the paper, and nothing moved. In a political world where so much happens every day, nothing compelled me enough to write about it. ISIS, ISIL, IS or whatever you want to call them? Of course they’re awful, but at this point, I couldn’t write an entire column about them.

I sat down as I ate dinner and tuned into the national news, still frustrated that I couldn’t come up with any thrilling column ideas. But as I flipped from NBC to CNN, Fox News and even (believe it or not) MSNBC, I became frustrated by the polarization between the two political parties, especially the far liberal left and the Tea Party.

In a democracy, there’s no arguing that we need political discourse, debate and discussion. But when and why did our society flip from one of discussion and compromise to one of slander and rejection? It’s not just one side of the aisle, one branch of government or even one profession that’s fallen into this political trap. I watched each news station bring in “experts,” strategists and politicians just to have each one repeat the same lines. I felt like I was listening to a broken record: “The Republicans are trying to block (enter legislation here),” said the left. Then a far-right activist would come on blaming the left for trying to force legislation.

Blaming and complaining from both sides of the aisle is nothing new. We’ve seen it since the birth of our nation. However, the one thing that stood out to me as I watched the news the other night was the fact that nobody — not one politician — offered some sort of compromise or realistic solution to the problems they proclaimed.

Just 20 to 30 years ago, our politicians were able to compromise. For example, Reagan was one of the most popular and productive presidents in recent history, but not once did he have the House in his favor. Even during the first Bush and Clinton administrations, Congress worked and compromised with the president. It wasn’t easy, but Clinton and an entire Republican Congress even worked out a budget deal and a budget surplus.

Now, only 20 years later, we have a stalemate. Times are telling when President Obama’s one signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), had to be pushed through Congress while Democrats controlled both the House and Senate. Even then, some of the ACA was written in “TBA” form. In fact, the biggest thing that happened since Congress split parties in 2010 was the government shutdown. How’s that for a stalemate?

As I said before, I don’t know why this stalemate occurred or when. It’s a complex issue based on many different factors, better suited for a graduate thesis.

What I do know, though, is the future doesn’t look much brighter unless the political world changes drastically. As long as President Obama’s “pen and cell phone” stay fully inked and charged, his mindset to bypass Congress and use his own executive orders won’t change.

Meanwhile, the upcoming election doesn’t look too promising in the name of compromise, either. With the Senate up for grabs, a Republican takeover would put pressure on the left to begin compromising. But if all stays the same and Democrats retain Senate control, nothing is bound to change.

What this country needs is a strong-willed, educated voter base — one that’s not afraid to vote out politicians who don’t work for the people. Young voters need to educate themselves on the role and importance that policies and issues play on our society. A recent NPR poll revealed only 24 percent of Americans aged 18-29 plan on voting in the upcoming election.

It’s no secret that political polarization brings out the worst in people. When political news focuses on stalemates, bickering and blaming, there is no incentive to vote. When there is no incentive to vote (especially for new voters), the same politicians are elected over and over by the same voting block.

I’m not being prophetic when I say this, but a country split down the middle with no compromise will go nowhere. It’s time for America to come back to the center and reap the benefits of compromise. True progress can’t be made without true political discourse.

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