Stop politicizing apolitical issues

Denouncing the political hegemony that currently dominates America

Melody Cui

Graphic by Sophia Ma

T he U.S. has repurposed its red, white and blue logo — extracting the white and drawing a thick line between the two remaining colors. Red and blue. Conservative and liberal. Republican and Democrat. The stark party divide that has been pushing itself into every corner of America. 

These labels have dominated America’s government, and now, with little resistance, are encroaching upon non-political issues such as social justice and health concerns. This is detrimental not only to those who declare themselves as members of either party, but to everyone who calls themselves an American.

The most infamous example is COVID-19 — what should’ve been solely a health crisis was introduced to our country as a political issue the moment Republicans and Democrats made opposing statements. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance was infiltrated by the party system, and the ensuing political divide was exacerbated by the stubbornness and the unwillingness of the legislators from either party to come to a consensus.

The approach to COVID-19 should’ve never been a Democratic or Republican approach; it should’ve been a federal approach. Lawmakers and healthcare officials alike should have shed their labels — along with their pride — and worked together to combat this virus, like they did when handling previous outbreaks. Instead, both parties politicized COVID-19 by engaging in propaganda and denouncing each other both in person and in the media. Ultimately, these efforts only resulted in strengthening the political divide by singling out and pushing the opposing party to further extremes, taking another step backwards.  

Compared to the rest of the world, America has the most COVID-19 cases — a number continuing to skyrocket every day — which should be evidence enough that the current handling of COVID-19 is ineffective. If government officials continue to treat this pandemic as a political campaign and not a serious health issue that has killed more than four million Americans, this crisis will never abate. 

The political divide engulfing health issues doesn’t just stop there. 

Andrew Cuomo —  a prominent, democratic, New York Governor who emerged as a prominent leader during the early months of the pandemic as New York battled record-breaking numbers of COVID-19 cases. Less than a year later, Cuomo is more well known for allegedly sexually assaulting 11 women. 

After State Attorney General Letitia James published the 168-page report detailing Cuomo’s obscenity and abuses of power, Republicans and Democrats alike jumped onto his case with equal vigor, demanding that Cuomo resign, all while advancing their own political agenda.

Tom Nichols, a U.S. Naval War professor, and a “democracy enthusiast” posted a tweet commenting on Cuomo’s behavior the day James’s report was published. He acknowledged Cuomo’s offenses and pushed for his resignation, but immediately pivoted the focus to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Trump and other members of the Republican Party, criticizing them on their approach and handling of COVID-19. 

It’s ironic how Nichols spends more of his tweet criticizing the GOP than Cuomo himself. 

It’s disgraceful and embarrassing to see sexual assault, a serious issue, being overshadowed by politics. Nichols not only invalidates Cuomo’s victims — he also downplays Cuomo’s crimes by placing emphasis on the GOP’s actions. Unfortunately, this sort of “party protection” system is present in many sexual assault cases, politicizing yet another non-political issue. 

Sexual assault is a crime, not an opportunity to enforce a political agenda. But just like other issues that dot America’s landscape, the red and the blue inevitably invaded it, turning these blatant issues and their victims into political weapons and pawns, and using them to denounce opposing parties. Even worse, there have been multiple instances where members of the accused side attempt to silence the victims in hopes of keeping their party slate clean, erasing the concept of justice right out of the Constitution. 

When addressing the perpetrators who committed these crimes, instead of looking at them as  Democrats or Republicans, we need to view them as individuals — individuals who broke the law and should be rightfully prosecuted. Only then will we achieve impartiality and justice. 

Our country’s political divide is growing larger every day and is swallowing issues that aren’t political. COVID-19 and sexual assault, two completely different issues, were both pushed into political spheres, resulting in nothing more than an ineffective system –– and this needs to stop. 

The goal is not to eliminate the party system; opposing parties with diverse perspectives are a backbone of any democratic republic. Rather, the point is to let go of our red and blue markers when necessary. Shedding our labels when addressing social justice, health or anything apolitical is the only way to avoid being blindsided by the bias the red and blue impose on us while ensuring our society’s and our own well-being.