Consider the Republican Carl. Does he embrace the GOP party platform? Did she campaign for Mitt Romney this summer? Is he a fiscal conservative but a social liberal? Does she support voter ID legislation? The world may never know.
I should mention that as a member of CarlDems, I am strikingly biased on this subject. In fact, I sometimes feel something like pride when I admit to my friends that there are no Republicans on my college campus. Sure, there is a smattering of people with conservative views, but a full-blown Republican? No way. People at Carleton just don’t go in for that sort of thing. Whether it is the exclusion of women and minority groups or the devout subscription to supply-side economics, there is something to turn almost every Carl away from embracing the Republican Party.
However, that feeling of pride soon gives way to a grim embarrassment. The fact is, Carleton College is a one-party bubble; a community where we reinforce our political views with people who already think the same thing. If there really are Carlublicans (or whatever they might call themselves), I imagine it is no easy task for them to identify as the intellectual (or anti-intellectual?) minority on our campus. However, if these people do exist, we desperately need them to come out soon.
The lack of political diversity at Carleton means that students have to work especially hard to have something that resembles a debate. More often, we argue for a while about Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan, and leave feeling satisfied in our skepticism. However, there are millions of Republicans outside of this one-party bubble, and some of them have interesting and legitimate things to say. Then there are those who believe pregnancy is impossible after a “legitimate rape.”
Regardless of where they fall on the spectrum of sanity, we all will have to engage these people when we enter the real world. Furthermore, if Republarls don’t define themselves, people like myself will never be challenged when we propose questionable ideas or inappropriately demonize our opponents. History has shown one-party bubbles to be unhappy places, so we should consider changing if we can.
While conservatives are not Republicans per say, at Carleton they may just have to do. Unknown to most, the Carleton Conservative Union (CCU) does in fact exist (although the “current issue” of their aptly named publication, The Observer, was published in the fall of 2008). Are we due for a reemergence of conservative voices on campus? Personally, I hope so. I know there are students who believe Obama’s healthcare reform is unconstitutional, who believe abortion is never a viable option, and who see tax cuts to the wealthy as an important step in healing our economy. In all seriousness, during this election cycle, our campus would be improved if such opinions were expressed with clarity. While I don’t expect the discourse to be different from years past, the Carleton Democrats promise a respectful debate with any group brave enough to take up the conservative gauntlet. If nobody appears, we won’t be the first to argue with an empty chair.