Cartier: Divide and conquer |

Cartier: Divide and conquer

Over the past decade, we’ve seen a huge divide between political parties in this country. Of course, there have always been differences in policy or approach and, sometimes they have been quite volatile. Yet that extreme was the exception; most Americans have preferences but are tolerant of differences and many welcome the dialogue as they seek solutions to complex or controversial issues, which have become increasingly global … a place where diverse solutions are essential.

The challenge here is that issues of race, gender, religion and other sensitive topics are being positioned along party lines. While these affiliations are well represented in both parties, some are staking claim as the party of representation. 

This is a treacherous game to play because there is only one consistent loser: the American people. Being a member of one group does not exclude affiliation or appreciation of others; it is not a zero-sum game. This idea of exclusion is a dangerous strategy to play, and political parties are exploiting individual vulnerabilities to the point that conversations about critical subjects are curtailed for fear of being labeled “anti” anything. Belonging to one does not indicate a hatred of others. 

In fact, we generally belong to multiple groups. It can be of gender, while also of religion, race, age group, nationality, economic class. Yet, few belong to every one of our individual groups … it’s what makes us unique. Each of us is a melting pot of identities and affiliations. The uniqueness of the United States is that we share more diversity than other nations, and oddly enough, it’s what keeps us united.

In-group preferences do not equate with out-group animosity; yet certain political groups would have you believe otherwise. The exploitation of differences — particularly when they are the foundation of our American culture — promotes fear and creates anxiety. 

We must also be aware that because we appreciate the values of a particular group, does not mean that we accept all of their positions. That must not stop us from supporting those with which we feel greatly connected. Just remember, silence is not always golden. Do not become compliant by omission. If there is an objection about your group’s representation, either on an issue or toward another group, it is our responsibility to say or do something. Change is not passive.

Political parties fall under the same group guidelines. We align with the party that expresses our greatest values, although, not necessarily all of them. Party membership doesn’t mean that we will blindly follow the entire platform. Just as, we can support a political leader whose legislation we respect doesn’t mean that person won’t be held accountable in times of error. We are all human, not programmable robots. AI is not a human condition; we must stop acting as such.

Yet, in a highly diverse population, people enjoy the challenge of differences but also — the comfort of familiarity — thus you see people assembling along ethnic, social, religious and even racial lines. They gather for mutually enjoyable sports, hobbies, and other personal interests. Again, that does not mean that they don’t enjoy other activities. An example of this, are the military branches. There is much competition between them, yet they continually put their lives on the line in defense of all. 

Don’t let people remove your joy of affiliation. Be aware and sensitive to how your actions are being perceived. Gathering with those whose company and values you respect and enjoy is a privilege we value in this country. It was granted by the sacrifices of previous generations.

As the 2020 campaign season commences, political groups will focus on divide-and-conquer tactics. Be cautiously aware of how your most sensitive emotions are being played for political gain. Don’t let someone label you, or groups demand that you behave in a manner contrary to your beliefs. 

Never let the opinions of others, cloud your own good judgment. Respect that there are differences of ideas and strategies, which are based upon the diversity of experience, and together we can continue to grow this nation into the most outstanding example of multiculturalism on earth.

Jacqueline Cartier is political and corporate consultant in Colorado and Washington, D.C. She may be contacted at For further information visit

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