Fisher and Lu: Too many followers

In “Missing discourse on campus,” Alex Klein ’12 is not mistaken when he points to the lack of Republican activity at Yale (Sept. 24). He is mistaken, however, when he asserts that conservatives need to “come out of the closet.”

The problem is not that most Republicans are staying; the problem is that far too many students are swept up in the Democratic tides that beset Yale. As international students largely outside the American political whirlpool that traps so many, what is most striking to us is the number of Yalies who simply declare themselves Democrat with a notion of neither what nor whom they are supporting. Klein observes that at Yale, it’s cool to conform. It’s not cool. It symbolizes all that is wrong with politics on this campus.

It is perverse that a campus that actively seeks to celebrate diversity seems to positively revel in political homogeneity. To support the Democrats seems to be as natural a Yale activity as singing in an a cappella group, writing for the News or being a member of the Yale Political Union. This is a worrying trend toward close-mindedness, one that serves only to detract from the vibrancy of the intellectual community of which we consider ourselves a part.

There are many liberals at Yale who hold rational and considered views, which they develop and refine through discourse with those of different opinions. Likewise, there are many ways for those on the right to do the same. To be either a Democrat or Republican in this fashion is admirable. These individuals who are willing to think about politics, to consider all sides and reject ideology and preconception in the face of facts, are the ones who make the most meaningful contribution to political life, whether on campus, in America or in the world.

To join a debate about the nature of politics and society requires thought, and it is saddening that so many, inherently capable of joining that debate, and with so much to offer to it, choose not to. Here, deciding to identify as a Democrat is too often the easy option: It keeps the risk of having to answer difficult questions to a minimum, and, to put it bluntly, it’s what everyone else is doing.

This “me-too” flavor of liberalism not only restricts the quality of debate on campus but also promotes a culture of unquestioning conformity that strangles individual thought. Obscured by the childish regurgitation at the heart of slogan-based politics, so many opinions are the product not of ideas and policies but of personalities and prejudices. Mention Republican Senate Candidate Linda McMahon and you’ll likely get a sarcastic look, swiftly followed by a snide remark relating to her time as CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, before you get a comment on her beliefs or priorities.

Let’s get one thing straight: We’re not calling for the campus to become filled with Sarah Palin obsessives, or for the News to become more like Fox News. But when two of the busiest coffee shops at Yale can base their entire business model by associating with the Democratic party and having a few Barack Obama quotes scrawled on their walls, something is wrong.

A great deal of time is spent telling freshmen that they don’t have to smoke, drink or take drugs just because someone else thinks it’s cool. The same ought to be true of politics: We need to remind ourselves that we don’t have to vote Democrat just because lots of other people here do.

We find ourselves languishing in a vacuous wasteland where a few well-delivered speeches and buzzwords define who we are. It’s time to follow a little less and think a little more.

Comments

  • YaleMom

    You boys need to remember that Barack Obama is our president. He deserves our respect and love. I text Ashley a Barack quote everyday.

  • Woland

    Personality cult, anyone?

  • y10br

    The buh, what? I’m sorry, I’m confused. This reads like freshmen who have been here all of a month, talking about the political culture of a country they don’t know, through the prism of what are considered so me of the craziest elections we’re having since for awhile.

    Color me skeptical of your claims and your ability to know them. Also, fo serious? A concentration of political opinion of a certain kind certainly doesn’t correspond to the fact that Yalies aren’t thinking. For many Yalies, the fact that Linda McMahon was the CEO of the WWE is a sign of other things: her notorious disregard for the safety of her workers, the cheap commercialization of the lowest kind of entertainment, her ability to essentially purchase the election.

    Just because you don’t know anything about the context of a snarky remark, doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

    Actually talk to your classmates. I’m certain you’ve spent most of your time trying to pitch them Austrian economics and you are just upset they aren’t listening to you.

  • justayalemom

    Teaching our youth American History… $80k per year.
    Teaching our youth Economics… $120k per year.
    Poisoning anyone on a daily basis with NObama quotes…shameful!!!

  • R14

    Conformity is a part of political socialization.

  • Sam

    “But when two of the busiest coffee shops at Yale can base their entire business model by associating with the Democratic party and having a few Barack Obama quotes scrawled on their walls, something is wrong.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Politics on Yale campus seems like it’s more about being hip than anything else.

    And lol @ Yalemom’s trolling.

  • Goldie08

    Yalemom absolutely cracks me up with her comments about “Ashley.” I’m pretty sure it is a fake account and if so, is hilarious and irreverent. I recall one comment from last week in response to the Yale parent wondering what her Freshman daughter was drinking out of the a capella cup: “Your daughter should meet Ashley – she loves drinking!” That’s comedy.

    If Yalemom is real, “Ashley” must either be quite embarassed or is a giant dweeb.

  • JE2011

    Beaker: Have you talked to any ACTUAL yale students?

    You’ll find that those of us not intent on climbing the political ladder (pretty much everyone except Ben Stango) is nearly as fed up with Democrats as we are with Republicans. While the campus might be largely liberal, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a Democratic voter that doesn’t hold his or her nose in the voting booth.

  • ElizabethGrayHenry

    y10br, just because Alex and James are freshmen from foreign countries doesn’t make them any less able to determine the intensity of liberalism that pervades the Yale campus. It is quite evident to anyone who spends even a day on campus that closed-mindedness in the name of the liberal Democratic agenda is, sadly, the norm for Yale students. As about the most conservative, “Religious-Right” Republican you could ever meet, I have been shocked, not by the amount of liberalism (I totally expected that), but by how uninformed and closed-minded it is. As a freshman myself, I’ve only been here a month, but I’ve already heard a ridiculous number of rude and intolerant comments regarding Republicans, conservatives, etc.

    What’s sad is that this unthinking consensus of political thought (and intolerance of conflicting viewpoints) is accepted and even defended by Yalies themselves (I assume you, y10br, are a Yalie) as well as by the administration. Alex and James hit it on the head when they said, “It is perverse that a campus that actively seeks to celebrate diversity seems to positively revel in political homogeneity.” It is a sad truth that all too often diversity in the modern liberal university doesn’t include diversity of political and idealogical thought.

  • justayalemom

    ElizabethGrayHenry….I would be proud to be your mother!!!! My son found a great group of people in the Party of the Right at Yale (actual intellectual open minds-not just puppets spewing facts from the extreme liberal left) . You might want to look into it. Oh, and stay away from Ashley and mom.

  • y10br

    @ElizabethGrayHenry – I don’t disagree that there are individuals that are reflexibly liberal. I’m not too sure where the close-mindedness is and what examples you are citing of the evils of liberal groupthink. Cite examples. Making fun of conservatives isn’t enough – I think there is a fundamental worldview in most conservatism that is actively detrimental to the human race and I’m not afraid of seeming rude or intolerant when I say. I can also back it up to a large degree, though this claim can’t be taken universally.

    Cite something. Make an argument. You seem to be whining and the authors also, without citing anything other than there are lot of liberals on campus and that for some mythical reason, there shouldn’t be two liberal coffee shops (where most people go to them because they sell coffee, not because of Obama quotes).

  • YaleMom

    Can’t we all just be friends? I’m foaming at the mouth with sadness.

  • justayalemom

    Yalemom, “foaming at the mouth” represents anger….not sadness! But keep living in denial about the obvious and you will soon have a rude awakening. Fortunately people on both sides, Left and Right, are waking up. With elections around the corner….we will soon steer in the Right direction.

  • ElizabethGrayHenry

    Anyone looking for an example of the widespread support of liberalism as well as the disrespect and intolerance for conservative viewpoints at Yale need look no further than the Yale Precision Marching Band’s halftime show during the Fordham game last weekend. See it on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBzXvnymsFQ