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Political polarization can be damaging to democracy in several ways. When political parties become increasingly divided and refuse to work together, it can make it difficult for the government to function effectively. This can lead to gridlock and inaction and make it difficult for the government to address important societal issues and challenges.

Political polarization can also lead to a lack of trust in government and the political process. When people perceive that their elected officials are more interested in partisan bickering than in working to address the needs and concerns of their constituents, it can erode confidence in government and the political system as a whole.

Polarization can lead to a breakdown in social cohesion and a rise in political extremism. When people become increasingly divided along ideological lines, it can make it more difficult for different groups to understand and empathize with one another. This can lead to a lack of social cohesion and an increase in political extremism, as people become more willing to embrace extreme positions to defend their beliefs and interests. Elected officials and citizens must work to bridge ideological divides and promote collaboration and compromise to ensure democracy can function effectively and fairly.

We can clearly see all these trends playing in our federal, state and local governments. And, we may only have one more election in 2024 to put the US democracy back on track.

The Hard Way

The electoral system in the United States is criticized for only sometimes electing representatives that are responsive to people's wishes and choices. One major criticism is that it often results in a two-party system, limiting the range of options available to voters and making it difficult for third-party or independent candidates to gain traction.

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Another issue with the US electoral system is that it often results in gerrymandering, which is manipulating the boundaries of electoral districts to favor one political party or group over another. Gerrymandering can make it difficult for voters to have a meaningful impact on election outcomes, as the boundaries of their electoral districts may be drawn in a way that dilutes their political power.

Additionally, the US electoral system relies heavily on private funding for political campaigns, which can lead to concerns about money's influence in politics. Candidates who can raise more money may have a more significant advantage in elections, regardless of their qualifications or positions on issues. Dark money aims to replace our minimum two-party rule with one party at best and a fascist dictatorship at worst. The Supreme Court has supercharged these dark money schemes to undermine our democracy.

The tendency towards a two-party system, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and concerns about money's political influence make it difficult, if not near impossible, for voters to have a meaningful impact on election outcomes without massive voter participation.

The Easy Way

Electing more women to Congress and state legislatures could be vital to ending political polarization for several reasons.

Women in government are more likely to work collaboratively and seek common ground, which can help to bridge the ideological divides of political polarization. Women are also more likely to prioritize issues such as education, healthcare, and social welfare, which can help promote policies that benefit all members of society.

Second, gender-balanced government bodies are more effective in promoting policies that address issues such as gender-based violence, economic inequality, and access to healthcare. By promoting gender equality in government representation, the United States could draw on broader perspectives and experiences in policymaking, contributing to more effective and equitable outcomes.

Third, gender-balanced government bodies have been shown to be more responsive to the needs and concerns of all society members, including those historically marginalized. By promoting gender balance in government, the United States could help to ensure that the perspectives and needs of all members of society are taken into account in policymaking, which could help to reduce polarization and promote social cohesion.

Electing more women to Congress and state legislatures could be key to ending political polarization by promoting collaborative policymaking, prioritizing issues that benefit all members of society, and ensuring that all members' perspectives and needs are considered.

The Case For More Women

The best and most straightforward example is generally recognized as the Nordic countries of Europe. In North America, Canada is on the road to joining that elite group. I travel to Canada every year and I am often reminded when crossing the border that Canadians seem happier than the folks I left behind in the States. I have concluded that their universal healthcare system is responsible. While the Canadian healthcare system has challenges, just as every other healthcare system globally, They can get medical care when needed.

The Nordic countries, including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, have been recognized as some of the world's happiest, most just, and most prosperous countries. Finland has been crowned the happiest county in the world for six years running. While many factors contribute to these countries' success, research has shown that gender equality and women's representation in government have played a significant role.

In these countries, women have achieved high levels of political representation, which has helped promote policies that benefit all members of society. For example, Norway has had a gender-balanced government since the 1980s, with women holding at least 40% of the seats in parliament. This level of representation has helped to promote policies that address issues such as parental leave, affordable childcare, and equal pay.

Similarly, Sweden has long been a leader in promoting gender equality in government, with women holding 47.3% of the seats in parliament. This has helped to promote policies that address issues such as gender-based violence and the gender pay gap.

In addition to promoting gender equality in government, the Nordic countries have also implemented a range of policies and programs that help to support women's economic and social empowerment. For example, Norway has a generous parental leave policy, which allows both mothers and fathers to take time off work to care for their children. Sweden has implemented policies that promote work-life balance, such as flexible work hours and subsidized childcare.

The result of these policies has been a more just and equitable society, where women are able to participate fully in the workforce and contribute to economic growth and development. Sure, some women are elected and don't contribute, but they are in the minority. Research has also shown that gender-balanced government bodies and policies are associated with lower levels of violence, higher levels of health and education, and greater economic growth than most.

So, want to end the political polarization's death grip on the US democracy? Then elect a woman to replace an aggressive right-wing male demagogue.

About the Author

jenningsRobert Jennings is co-publisher of InnerSelf.com with his wife Marie T Russell. He attended the University of Florida, Southern Technical Institute, and the University of Central Florida with studies in real estate, urban development, finance, architectural engineering, and elementary education. He was a member of the US Marine Corps and The US Army having commanded a field artillery battery in Germany. He worked in real estate finance, construction and development for 25 years before starting InnerSelf.com in 1996.

InnerSelf is dedicated to sharing information that allows people to make educated and insightful choices in their personal life, for the good of the commons, and for the well-being of the planet. InnerSelf Magazine is in its 30+year of publication in either print (1984-1995) or online as InnerSelf.com. Please support our work.

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This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License. Attribute the author Robert Jennings, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com


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