November 6th, 2012 | Opinion

Forum: Election Morning

What issues are on your mind this morning, as Election Day begins? Read two perspectives in the News’ Forum:

Matthew Lloyd-Thomas, Guest Columnist | Freshman in Jonathan Edwards College

Those using an iPhone to read The New York Times Monday afternoon might have found themselves scratching their heads at a somewhat counterintuitive banner advertisement for Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon.

“We are voting for President Obama and Linda McMahon” reads the advertisement, which also features two women and a link to “Learn More.”

In today’s highly polarized political environments, voters are increasingly expected to simply vote down party lines — in Michigan, voters can simply choose a “party-line” instead of voting for individual offices — but McMahon’s ad appears to be a result of the unusual state of Connecticut politics.

Despite a tremendous lead for President Obama in the state — he leads Mitt Romney by 13 points in a recently released Public Policy Polling poll — the race between McMahon and Democratic Congressman Chris Murphy remains among the closest Senate contests in the country.

McMahon, it seems, is attempting one of two strategies. On the one hand, she may hope to prevent Murphy from benefiting from a coattail effect, in which Connecticut residents voting for Obama would also vote for Murphy because they identify the two candidates as being part of the same party. On the other hand, the ad may be an indication that the McMahon campaign, which has emphasized McMahon’s “independent streak” throughout the campaign, would rather not be associated with a more conservative brand of Republican.

Regardless of motivation, McMahon will have to wait until tonight night to find out if the strategy worked.

David Lilienfeld, Guest Columnist | Sophomore in Ezra Stiles College

Throughout the hallowed halls of Dear Old Yale, there exists a constant struggle between tradition and progress. This tension, to a great extent, defines what it means to be a Yalie. What do we keep, and what do we change?

In his seminal essay “What is Political Philosophy?” Leo Strauss explains that “all political action aims at either preservation or change. When desiring to preserve, we wish to prevent a change for the worse; when desiring to change, we wish to bring about something better.”

Many traditions have made Yale a great institution, but we have rightfully abandoned others — quotas, discrimination and hazing, for instance. From our vantage point, it’s quite easy to distinguish between the right and the wrong. Singing “Bright College Years” (good). Not admitting women (bad). But was this so clear 50 or 100 years ago?

In many current cases, the distinction between good and bad is unclear. Should we build new colleges, admit more athletes or increase funding to the sciences? Perhaps in the future, the answers to these questions will be obvious, but right now, we must struggle.

We are able to identify right or wrong when we see it, but we do not ask ourselves why we see it in that particular way. Let’s be honest – many of us don’t know what we really believe.

The quest for discovering our beliefs defines not only our time as students, but also our human experience. We continuously refine our character, hoping to approach an idealized state. In doing so, we refine our perspective of the world. Nonetheless, the mundane matters of everyday life too often allow us to defer seriously questioning our personal philosophy. We take stances on the specifics, but fail to understand the universal.

Before hitting the polls, take Strauss’ quote to heart. Ask yourself — what do I believe?