While the various two sides problems can arise in many circumstances, the American two-party system provides an unfortunate exemplar. As this is being written, the Democrats are endeavoring to remove Trump from office. The Republicans, including some who savagely criticized Trump before he captured the Republican party, are endeavoring to keep him in place. As would be expected in such a scenario, two sides problems abound.
One tactic that can be employed in such two-sided conflicts is claiming that the other side is taking its position for wicked or irrelevant reasons. While it is a fallacy to conclude that a claim is false or without merit simply because the person or group making it is alleged to have wicked or irrelevant motivations, this approach can have considerable psychological appeal. That is, it can be an effective persuasive tool despite (or perhaps because of) the bad logic. One way to employ this method is to simply claim that the other side is driven by wicked or irrelevant motives. For example, the Republican defenders of Trump have asserted that the Democrats hate Trump, that they want to undo the 2016 election, and that they want to win the 2020 election by impeaching Trump. While acting from hate, unjustly undoing an election, and cheating in an upcoming election would all be bad things to do, they have no bearing on the claims about Trump’s guilt or innocence. They do, of course, have bearing on one’s moral assessment of the Democrats, but that is another matter entirely.
In addition to simply asserting that the other side is driven by wicked or irrelevant motivations, one can also try to generate the appearance that the other side is driven by such motivations. It seems natural to be suspicious of a side that holds a position in lockstep. In politics this is doubly suspicious, for the party will certainly seem to be driven solely by partisan motivations and goals (which are presumably wicked or at best irrelevant). As such, the Republicans can point to the Democrats and claim that because they all seem to be acting as a party, that they must be driven by wicked or irrelevant partisan motivations. If they were acting from laudable or neutral motives, one might think, surely there would be some division in the ranks. Interestingly enough, the Republicans can also make the claim that if the Democrats had fair rather than foul motives, at least some Republicans would join with them. But since the Democrats have only the Democrats and they are all together on the matter, they must surely be driven by wicked motives.
While the Republicans cannot ensure that the Democrats all stick together, they can ensure that they stick together and that none of them break ranks. While the Republicans might want some Democrats to join them, there is also an advantage in acting in ways that makes this unlikely—they can push the notion that the Democrats are up to no good and are unreasonable because none of them are willing to work with the Republicans. Since the Republicans do not need any Democrats in this matter, this is a viable option. In contrast, the Democrats do want to win over some Republicans—they gain more by getting Trump removed than whatever political points they might score by accusing the Republicans of siding with Trump for wicked motives.
When one side acts to create this sharp division and use it for rhetorical purposes, one might think that this would be problematic for them. After all, when the Republicans all side together and leave the Democrats on the other side and then accuse the Democrats of being wicked partisans, an objective observer would notice that the same charge would seem to hold against the Republicans—after all, they are actively creating the partisan divide they are accusing the Democrats of creating.
Another two-sides problem is that a side will almost always regard its side as more credible and laudable than the other side; so, the Republicans will see the Democrats as wickedly partisan while the Democrats will see the Republicans that way. This allows each side to, oddly, accuse the other of wicked motives by pointing to the partisan division while conveniently ignoring their own roll in the matter.
This split does raise the usual moral problems of how people should, morally, divide on an issue such as impeachment. As noted in earlier essays, one could argue that truth an morality matter not in such cases: all that matters is victory for your side over the other side—which is yet another two-sides problem.