I’m not a Republican, but I’m also not a Democrat, and I know I’m not the only person who was upset by Dan Antoszyk’s article in The Carletonian a few weeks ago, “Carleton College: The One Party Bubble.”
Mr. Antoszyk’s article assumes that Democrats exist in opposition to Republicans, and all other political beliefs fall along this spectrum, or as he refers to it, the spectrum of sanity. The two party binary of Us vs. Them, in which we must define ourselves as Democrats or Republicans, conservatives or liberals, fails to capture the complexity and diversity of political opinions present on campus. Many Carls have legitimate grievances against the policies of both parties. Sanity, or stupidity for that matter, cannot be confined to one party. But this gray area is lost when we are forced into the party binary.
Such a view leaves out students who do not subscribe to either party, and who identify as Independents or as members of a third party. While Carleton Democrats as an organization dominate campus politics, they are not necessarily representative of campus opinions; merely the most easily defined and established opinions. While I do not dispute that this campus does skew liberal— I reject the idea that all liberals must be Democrats, or that all rational and intellectual people must be liberal.
I agree that we need more debate on this campus. Unchallenged, the Carleton Democrats have become comfortable projecting their opinions onto the rest of us.
However, Mr. Antoszyk’s promise of respectful debate was unconvincing, coming as it did after an article where he repeatedly implied that those who did not share his beliefs were insane, anti-intellectual and ridiculous.
The implication throughout the article is that conservatives ought to enter the debate not because their opinions are interesting and their concerns legitimate, but rather because the Carleton Democrats need someone to practice on.
There exists a broad spectrum of political diversity on campus if you are willing to look for it. We are Republicans, Independents, moderates, conservatives, social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, Libertarians, and civil libertarians. We are here, we are a part of this community, and we are willing to talk.
But we are not your punching bag or your straw man. We are not your “practice” for the real world. We are real people with legitimately held beliefs and opinions. When you are willing to treat us as such, to set aside your own biases and actually listen to what we have to say, then we can talk. Until then, have fun trying to argue with an empty chair.