Surviving partisan politics will take compromise

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Surviving partisan politics will take compromise

By Bethel Habte / Columnist

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When children misbehave, you give them a time out. When Congress misbehaves, you strand its members on a remote island and allow the threat of imminent death to reconcile their differences. 

That’s exactly what the Discovery Channel plans on doing with its new show, “Rival Survival,” which premieres Oct. 29. 

“Rival Survival” is hardly novel in design. It follows the typical reality television model by fulfilling our desire to watch people endure life in “remote” locations. But it’s inventive in presenting contestants who aren’t competing for love, money or even a sense of unity with nature. 

Instead, the show will pluck two U.S. senators of opposing political parties from their daily lives and drop them with minimal resources on Eru in the Marshall Islands. The senators must survive on the island for a week without outside aid or contact. 

The central idea is that the contestants will ultimately set political differences aside if they hope to survive the week. 

Although it’s encouraging to think that opposing political parties can work cohesively, I still hope that bipartisanship is presented not only as a survival tactic, but as a viable means of achieving legislative goals.  

It’s become common practice in politics to vehemently promote a party’s personal agenda before acceding to compromise. 

“Rival Survival” will come during the climax of the midterm elections, and many voters are holding their breath as they wait to see who will maintain control of the House and the Senate. 

A Gallup poll from September showed that approval of Congress is a low 14 percent. Additionally, 66 percent of voters will be more likely to vote in this election than they were in past elections, mainly because of the widespread disapproval of Congress.  

The trends seem to show that voters are distancing themselves from political loyalty and focusing more on their desire to see the resolvement of several key issues, like healthcare and immigration. And Congress cannot solve these issues as long as legislators favor ideology over compromise. 

The current voter disapproval should be sending candidates a clear message: the American people have tired of their impassioned ideologies, preferring the perhaps more revolutionary approach of collaboration.

Unfortunately, the representatives in office have, during this past term, disregarded the interests of Americans — leading to a gridlock, filibusters and a government shutdown over the issues Americans expect their legislators to solve. 

This is why “Rival Survival” will attract high ratings, as it depicts a rarity: politicians working together. 

While it’s sad that, for the time being, we have to turn to television to witness political cohesion, voters can solve the problem of government inaction this November. To do this, they must elect candidates who are willing to collaborate and dismiss those with fierce attachments to their ideologies. 

But, if that doesn’t work, we could always move congressional sessions to Eru. The island apparently has quite the uncanny ability to inspire a spirit of bipartisanship. 

Write to Bethel at beh56@pitt.edu

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