Last week, Indigo Scott responded to my opinion piece from the first Carletonian of the term titled: “The One Party Bubble.” My intent was to lament the lack of ideologically conservative students at Carleton, especially during an important election season.
Ms. Scott replied with two main critiques. I first upset her by assuming a two party binary and failing to acknowledge the diverse nature of political thought on campus. Second, Ms. Scott writes that my call for respectful debate is unconvincing because in my article, I repeatedly ridicule people with different beliefs than my own. Now, I will respond in turn.
Behind Ms. Scott’s first grievance is a misreading of what I originally wrote. She says that there is a spectrum of political belief on campus, and that many students do not consider themselves part of either major party that I mention. I happily agree.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if most people who attend CarlDems events and get CarlDems emails are not Democrats at all. Students choose not to identify with political parties for various reasons, but this is simply not the subject that I am trying to address.
At Carleton, we have Democrats who perform various roles. These include informing people about their candidates, bringing in speakers who are against the marriage and voter restriction amendments, and organizing volunteer opportunities. Do we have Republicans who do a similar thing on the opposite side, who help Carls learn about local candidates and rally to support the amendments that their legislators put on the ballot? No we do not. I am not losing any “grey area” or forcing anyone into the “party binary” by stating these facts.
I stand by my statement that Carleton is a “One Party Bubble.” Yes, Carleton students have various affiliations and beliefs, but overwhelmingly, they are on the ideological left. While Ms. Scott says that the campus “does skew liberal,” this is something of an understatement. In relation to other colleges and to the rest of the country, Carleton College is ten heaping piles of liberal with five sides of liberal and an extra serving of liberal on top.
As you know, when liberal people have to translate their opinions into votes, there is one party that they almost always support: The Democrats. I think it is telling that only a handful of people on campus know the names of the local Republican candidates on the ballot, and I have yet to meet a student who is excited about promoting what these guys have to say.
Campus ideologies may be diverse, but that does not mean there can’t be a void when it comes to one end of the spectrum. Is the idea of Carleton as a “One Party Bubble” honestly all that controversial? The only thing I don’t like about it is that it’s true.
My least favorite part of Ms. Scott’s article is the following sentence: “[Mr. Antoszyk] repeatedly implied that those who did not share his beliefs were insane, anti-intellectual, and ridiculous.” It is important that I tackle these poorly contextualized accusations one by one.
In my article, I write that some Republicans have “interesting and legitimate things to say.” In the next sentence, I imply that other people, like Todd Akin, (who this summer expressed his belief that pregnancy was impossible during a “legitimate rape”) are pretty insane.
Does this mean I think all people who disagree with me are crazy? No, it just means that I think the Todd Akins of the world are kind of nuts. Next, in my article I note that it must be hard for Republicans to be the “intellectual (or anti-intellectual?) minority” on campus.
Does this mean that I think all people who disagree with me are anti-intellectual? No, but it does mean that I poked fun at the GOP for being the party of creationism and climate science doubters.
Elsewhere in my piece, I wonder what the Carleton Republicans would call their group (“Republarls”) and I gesture to Clint Eastwood’s peculiar convention speech that he addressed to an empty chair. None of these quips are unfair, disgusting, or particularly hard-hitting, and it is unreasonable to assume that their author is a closed-minded and mean-spirited person.
I promise that I am open to fair, fun, and respectful conversations with my peers. Ms. Scott felt that the implication throughout my submission was that “conservatives ought to enter the debate…because the Carleton Democrats need someone to practice on.” She can only have arrived at this reading by selectively ignoring the most important parts of my article and by making generalizations of her own.
She writes that CarlDems represent the “most easily defined” opinions on campus and that we have become “comfortable projecting [our] opinions” onto everyone else. While I don’t have room in the present article to counter these claims in full, I want to make it clear that I object.
More significantly, in my final paragraph, I write “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.” I mean this. I really do. I swear that I am not some liberal fiend who wants to do lab experiments on conservative specimens.
I may have glibly stated that “we all will have to engage [conservatives] when we enter the real world,” and all I mean is that with political diversity, just like diversity of other kinds, our education will improve. This way, when we do leave Carleton, all Carls will be better equipped to communicate, compromise, and solve important problems.
On the positive side, I applaud the new nonpartisan group, CarlPAC, which has already made strides as far as fostering candidate forums and intergroup dialogue. I also noticed that in last week’s Carletonian, Jacob Cohn wrote a piece on the voter ID amendment. In it, he included interesting quotes from Erik Anderson of CarlDems as well as from Travis Norgaard of the Carleton Conservative Union.
In the absence of any mobilized bloc of conservative leaning students, I hope these types of activities continue up until Election Day, and hopefully beyond.