Washington Warned of Extreme Partisanship — Here’s How We Can Bridge the Divide

In moments of great division, young leaders have always played a pivotal role in leading people through their differences. MAP President & Co-Founder Steven Olikara's recent op-ed in The Hill commemorates Presidents Day Week by highlighting examples of youth leadership from our founding until now, offering a better path forward for the rising generation of leaders. The piece begins by highlighting Washington's warnings about division and factionalism, and examines into ways in which young people can close the partisan divide.

Partisanship in recent years has reached its most extreme levels on record, inhibiting our willingness to collaborate with, listen to, and even respect each other in disagreement. Of course, America always has and always will have vigorous disagreements. That’s why Washington, Madison and the other Framers intentionally designed a governing system that required consensus-building for an increasingly large and diverse country — it’s one of the great achievements in human history.

However, that system is under threat today. Numerous polarizing forces, worsened by fear-based campaign fundraising and media echo chambers, have served as a barrier to what we elected our leaders to do: govern. That makes our society vulnerable to the exact dangers predicted in Washington’s Farewell Address.

So what can we do to combat extreme partisanship?

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Steven Olikara - Washington warned of extreme partisanship - here's how we can bridge the divide.

George Washington departed from his second term as president with a cautionary final address on the dangers of faction in seeking national unity.