What Does Partisan Mean?

How to Tell If You're Too Loyal to a Political Party or Candidate

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Gill, Kathy. "What Does Partisan Mean?" ThoughtCo, Jun. 12, 2016, thoughtco.com/what-does-partisan-mean-3368071. Gill, Kathy. (2016, June 12). What Does Partisan Mean? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-does-partisan-mean-3368071 Gill, Kathy. "What Does Partisan Mean?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-does-partisan-mean-3368071 (accessed October 20, 2017).
Sean Hannity
Sean Hannity of FOX News. Getty Images News

If you're a partisan, it means you adhere firmly to a political party, faction, idea or cause. If you're a partisan you probably exhibit "blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance." It's the opposite of being a swing voter or independent in politics. To put it bluntly, being a partisan isn't a good thing. 

A synonym of partisan is ideologue. If you're an ideologue, it means you're an adherent to a rigid ideology.

You don't like compromise. And you're probably difficult to talk to. 

So. How can you tell if you're a partisan?

Here are five easy ways to tell.

1. You Can't Talk Politics Without Getting Angry

If you can't talk politics with people and still stay friends, you're a partisan. There are no two ways about it. If you can't talk politics without the conversation ending in bruised egos and hurt feelings, you're a partisan. If you can't see the other side of an issue and storm off abruptly from the dinner table, you're a partisan.

Seek your inner peace. And understand this: You're not right about everything. No one is.

2. You Vote the Straight Party Line

Here's the deal: If you show up to the voting booth without doing your homework but still pull the lever for the straight-party ticket every time, you're a partisan. In fact, you match the definition of a partisan to the T: someone who exhibits "blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance" to a political party.

If you don't want to be a partisan, here's a handy guide to everything you need to know to prepare for Election Day. Hint: Vote for the best candidate, not the party.

3. You Watch MSNBC or FOX News

There's nothing wrong with watching MSNBC or FOX News. But let's call it what it is: Choosing a source of news and information that supports your world view.

If you lean lift, you're probably watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. If you tilt to the right, you're tuning in to Sean Hannity

And, yes, if you do this you're a partisan.

4. You Chair a Political Party

OK. To be fair, it is some people's job to be partisan. And those people happen to be working in the political arena. That is, the parties themselves. If you're the chairman of the Republican National Committee or the GOP organization in your hometown, it is function to be a partisan. That's why you have the job: to support your party's candidates blindly and without prejudice.

5. You Violate the Hatch Act

Let's hope things don't get this bad. But if you're a government employee and you're found to have violated the federal Hatch Act, you're behaving as a partisan would behave.

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The Hatch Act (1939) limits the political activity of executive branch employees of the federal government, District of Columbia government, and some state and local employees who work in connection with federally funded programs. The law is intended to prohibit taxpayer-supported resources from being used in partisan campaigns; it is also intended to protect civil service employees from partisan pressures from political appointee managers.

Related Story: Why Are Republicans Red and Democrats Blue?

What does that mean? Well, let's say you work for an agency that is funding at least in part by the federal government. Under the Hatch Act you can't campaign for office or engage in any similar political behavior. You've got to quit your job first. The federal government doesn't like allocating taxpayer money to agencies whose workers are behaving as partisans.

[Edited by Tom Murse]