By Dan Milyavsky
This year’s political roundtable featuring the College Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians was a rather calm affair. Voices were kept at reasonable volumes and passions were kept in check. As is the norm in political debates, nobody convinced anybody of anything, but things were rather respectful.
The same cannot be said for last year’s roundtable. Then, a particularly thin-skinned member of the College Democrats made the entire atmosphere more caustic and belligerent. You could not bring up an issue without this guy freaking out and reacting viscerally and emotionally. If you said something skeptical of global warming, he would shout, “You don’t care if the entire planet gets destroyed, as long as corporations make money!” Being against gay marriage would elicit a comment like: “How can I even have a discussion with someone like you?”
Unfortunately, this way of looking at issues is far too common in our political discourse. Both the Right and Left are guilty of this, but the Left is especially culpable. If you express concern about the level of U.S. debt, you really just want to cut government services for poor people. If you make a point of the negative effects welfare programs can have on family stability, you really just want black people to starve to death. If you believe that government regulation can be harmful to the economy, and that a strong economy is most important to those with the least amount of wealth, leading Democrats will say that you just want Big Oil to pollute our rivers.
To give you a real life example of this, let me present you with two quotations:
1. “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work. There is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”
2. “When it comes to getting an education, too many of our young people just can’t be bothered. They’re sitting on couches for hours, playing video games, watching TV. Instead of dreaming of being a teacher or a lawyer or a business leader, they’re fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper.”
Now, both of these quotes express pretty much the same sentiment. If anything, the second quote uses language that is a little bit more strident than the first. However, the first was spoken by Paul Ryan, a Republican congressman from Wisconsin, and the second was spoken by Michelle Obama, the first lady. Since Michelle Obama is black and is a Democrat, her remarks were met with a complete absence of any sort of controversy. Paul Ryan, however, was branded a vicious racist who only cares about white people.
Enough of this sort of thing. Let us stop being petulant children in our political discourse and instead let us cease questioning our adversaries’ motives. Republicans don’t want poor people to die and Democrats don’t want everyone to live in poverty. Let’s take respond to arguments honestly and politely, instead of engaging in character assassination.