Political polarization and partisanship are nothing new in the U.S. According to Pew Research Center, Democrats and Republicans are farther apart ideologically today than at any time in the past 50 years.

People can see political divisions play out every day in the news. Last month, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Tweeted that the country needed a national divorce and that the U.S. needs to separate into red states and blue states and agree to separate its ideological and political disagreements by states while maintaining its legal union.

A few days later, Greene elaborated and expressed her concern that the left and right had reached irreconcilable differences, which she defined as an inability to agree on most things or on important things.

“Tragically, I think we, the left and right, have reached irreconcilable differences,” Greene said in a Feb. 21 Tweet. “I’ll speak for the right and say, we are absolutely disgusted and fed up with the left cramming and forcing their ways on us and our children with no respect for our religion/faith, traditional values, and economic & government policy beliefs.”

The response from many on the left was equally divisive.

“Kevin McCarthy’s shameful silence on Marjorie Taylor Greene’s divisive calls for secession of states sends a dangerous message to conspiracy theorists and anarchists,” said Tommy Garcia, a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman, said according to an article from The Hill. “Apparently, upholding and defending the Constitution is merely a suggestion to the House Republican party.”

It seems like everywhere we look, no matter how unbiased our news sources are, Republicans and Democrats are fighting over everything.

While the polarization can be seen and felt at the national level, does this division trickle down to interparty relations at the state level?

Political partisanship in Idaho

Idaho’s legislature has a super-majority with over 80% of each branch Republican. However, representatives from Madison County have committed themselves to make friendships across the aisle.

When Jon Weber, one of the House representatives for Madison County, first started in the legislature in 2020, he made an effort to make a personal connection with everyone in the House.

“I was visiting with people, talking with them, and in my mind, it didn’t even register, Republican or Democrat until three days into my new session,” Weber said. “I’m like, wait a second, these guys are Democrats. This is awesome. They are amazing, good people that have been elected just as I was elected to represent their constituents. I’ve always had, and continue to have, my thought process of if it is good policy, good legislation, solid for Idahos, does it really matter who it comes from? My answer is no.”

Weber believes that all representatives should put Idaho first regardless of their political affiliation, and he believes many do.

“If it’s a Democrat, if it’s a Republican, if it’s an independent, we should be open enough to work the policy that is best for Idaho and work together,” Weber said. “So to answer your question, I get along with all of the Democrats. I make it a point to get to know them and understand their position.”

Sen. Doug Ricks sees himself as one of the Republicans more friendly to democrats. He believes most of the polarization comes from extremes on the left and the right.

“They’re in major conflict and both of those groups are very loud, and help drive some of the narrative between the more moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats,” Ricks said. “As long as the more extreme views exist out there, it causes more of that division. If people come a little more in the middle, they are more tolerant of each other. It’s easy to get stuff passed. It’s easy to get together on ideas. We find that in most cases we have more in common than we have differences.”

Ricks has also formed friendships and partnerships across the aisle, even helping cosponsor bills. For example, Ricks partnered with Democratic Rep. Melissa Wintrow to pass a law that said booting companies couldn’t boot a car with an expired license plate, sticker, or registration.

“We had some of those issues up in Rexburg and in our parking spaces so I carried that on and got that done,” Ricks said. “I don’t mind going together in doing good legislation if it makes sense.”

To learn more about Pew Research Center’s research regarding the increased political polarization and partisanship, click here.