Kavanaugh Controversey Shed Light On A Nation Divided

Written by River Stone, Rebecca Faletti, and Mark Blevins

In wake of the Kavanaugh-Ford Senate Hearings that rocked the nation, the bitter division between Republican and Democratic voters becomes increasingly apparent on both a national and local level.

Former Senator John McCain passed away in August. Yet, with his death still fresh in the public’s mind, it seems ironic that the very bipartisanship he was known for seems to have entirely escaped us. The Kavanaugh-Ford controversy reached unprecedented levels of malice, as both sides weighed in on the sensitive issue.

McCain was unique in that even as a Republican politician, he drew praise from Republicans and Democrats alike. His death and Kavana- ugh’s nomination have shed light on the political division that the nation is currently in.

According to the Pew Research Center, Republicans and Democrats are more ideologically divided now than in the past two decades. In 2017, Pew asked over 5,000 Americans about their opinions on certain political issues such as government aid to the poor, same-sex marriage, and racial discrimination. From their data, they found a 36 point gap between Democrats and Republicans, a 21 point increase since Pew started collecting this data 23 years ago.

However, the division doesn’t stop at the national level, it carries all the way through to schools like Woodgrove. Although students span a broad spectrum of political outlooks, it often seems as if the loudest voices belong to those with the most extreme views.

Woodgrove senior Dani Kimbrough says that political division affects students on a day to day basis. “Kids are made fun of, harassed, and isolated,” says Kimbrough.

This division can start early. Freshman River Billman recounts political disagreements taken to the extremes, as louder arguments mean that extreme beliefs become more accessible to students at younger ages.

“I’ve personally known people, who are literally 7th and 8th graders, who have stopped being friends with people because they’re so outspoken about their political views,” Billman says. “A lot of it is probably things they are hearing from their parents, so they need to formulate their own opinion before they get so outspoken about it.”

Although contending opinions can often produce ugly consequences, they don’t have to. These differences of opinions can also work to foster meaningful discussion.

Kimbrough and senior Giovanni Cianciaruso are two of the four leaders of STAMP (Students Against Marginalizing People). Characteristic of its title, the club is aimed at educating students, raising money, and spreading awareness about historically marginalized groups. Kimbrough sees STAMP as a means of addressing hostile attitudes of different students here at Woodgrove.

“People are afraid of what they don’t know,” says Kimbrough. “Kids making fun of different cultures, religions, and races, is just because it is so unfamiliar to them and it’s their way of feeling comfortable. The more we educate, the more aware and accepting the community and the school becomes.”

In the past, many students have considered STAMP a more liberal-leaning club, so in a joint effort to bring together seemingly opposing sides, STAMP and the Young Conservatives are working together to host events and lead discussions.

“I would say that while everyone is very stuck in their ways, there have been things that STAMP and the Young Conservatives have been able to do where we’re able to reach some sort of compromise and people are able to see what both sides are really asking for,” says Cianciaruso.

Even with students working daily to provide a rational and calm space for discussion, the deep divide in outlooks can create a situation that, if not outright divided, is tense as people anticipate the anger they’ve seen previously.

“There are no really big fights or arguments, [people] try to understand and communicate. Still, whenever a teacher brings up certain topics I get tense because I know someone could go off,” says senior Tyler Holdridge.

The type of thinking Cianciaruso and Kimbrough support may foster communication in the classroom, but accepting other people’s political opinions may prove harder in the real world.

One of the hottest topics of recent news is the nomination and confirmation of D.C. Republican Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. This topic is consistent with the trend of current events sparking passionate outcries from the public and becoming sharply partisan.

One of the reasons Cianciaruso is opposed to this most recent Supreme Court member is because of Kavanaugh’s belief that sitting Presidents should be immune to civil trials.

“I think if the FBI is able to indict someone for a Federal crime, then obviously the President should be forced to testify,” says Cianciaruso. Conversely, others are of the opinion that despite Kavanaugh’s past, the future is uncertain.

“We don’t know enough yet,” says Holdridge, a self-described libertarian. He also questions the reliability of the predictions of what Kavanaugh’s actions on the Supreme Court might be. “The fear-mongering I’ve seen and all the arguments should show facts and links, cite their sources but they don’t.”