Can The Next Generation Bridge Political Divides?

In his latest podcast, Andrew Yang sat down with UC Berkeley student and founder of BridgeUSA, Manu Meel, to discuss the partisan forces that have driven Americans apart and his group's efforts to bring young voters from across the political spectrum together.

BridgeUSA has 70 chapters in colleges and high schools across the country. Meel says the organization was founded to serve one, simple need: "to allow and give young people a chance to have conversations with people who are different from themselves."

The goal is to elevate a generation that understands politics is not only crazy, but has lost touch with reality. "We have to be able to disagree better," Meel said. "We have to live in a society where we can actually solve our problems."

Yang, who ran for president in 2020, says he has talked to "the rural farmer in Iowa and the black mom in Harlem, and they are concerned about a lot of the same things." The problem is a system that has divided Americans into "red zones" and "blue zones."

The US operates under a political system that tells people if you are looking for someone to blame look at the people you disagree with. They are the "enemy."

"Meanwhile both of them are mad at the health care system, the education system, or the fact that their kids won't have the same kind of future they want," says Yang. 

What Yang's Forward Party and BridgeUSA set out to do is something the IVN has proven over the last decade and that is the left-right divide as it is presented to Americans is nonsense, and that voters -- in Yang's words -- "are being set up." 

No one denies that people of different backgrounds have different mindsets and different ways of looking at the world around them, but having different ideas doesn't make someone the enemy.

The enemy is the system that has manipulated us, turned us against each other, and given us nothing. And unfortunately, the solution cannot come from voting alone.

"Voting harder is not going to get us out of this mess," Yang says. "They've segmented us that our votes are already baked into the cake."

And by "they," Yang is referring to the Republican and Democratic Parties.

People hear it all the time that they need to vote harder for one side or the other to effect change. But this idea, by itself, illustrates why political division is worsening, because voters are told they need to further entrench themselves on the "red side" or "blue side."

The truth is change has never been on the menu because Republicans and Democrats benefit from the status quo. They need us divided and have structured the electoral processes to keep us divided.

This is why voters need to consider more than who they vote for, but how public officials are elected and what keeps them in power even when they don't deliver solutions. It is a systemic problem, and systemic problems require systemic reforms.

Yang and Meel discuss the issue further in debt in the latest episode of the Forward Podcast. Check out the full conversation above. 

Photo Credit: Alexis Brown on Unsplash

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