To the Editor:
Last week, in his remarks at the Yale Political Union debate, former New York state Senator John Dunne complimented the union on the quality of debate and mentioned that he wished such productive dialogue still occurred in the N.Y. Statehouse. But Mr. Palmer and his anonymous friend apparently disagree and criticize the union for being “unserious” and not “active in effecting change” (“The sad reality of Yale’s political dialogue,” 10/18).
The purpose of the union is to serve as a forum for political discussion; if political action is to be effective, the development of persuasive arguments is a necessary precursor. Far from demonstrating a lack of seriousness, use of parliamentary procedure ensures that both sides are heard equally and no one is allowed to make assertions without having to defend them. Furthermore, the good-natured partisanship that upset Mr. Palmer’s friend is simply the excitement of a productive, heated debate.
The column also contradictorily reproached members both for “the politicized way they attack each other” and for being too “chummy.” One of the union’s greatest strengths is the close friendships we form with people who disagree with us politically. And indeed, much of this camaraderie develops from respect for members’ abilities to defend their views against vigorous “attacks.”
Asserting that this camaraderie is merely a tool for chasing political careers is like saying that Yalies only join a cappella groups to further careers as pop stars. No one could dispute that there is a large population of Yalies who like politics but have other career plans (i.e. the union’s large population of Group IV majors) — the union provides a forum for them to have serious political debate while having fun.
None of us would argue that the union is perfect, but the best way to improve political discourse is to participate in it and lead by example, not to write columns full of fallacies and contradictions.
Lindsay Bliss ’06 and
Jennifer Rost ’06
Oct. 18, 2005
The writers are the former and current presidents of the Yale Political Union, respectively.