This campaign season has been characterized by a lack of meaningful consideration of the other side. Blame it on news and social media selling us what we want to hear, or convince yourself that you grew up in solidly Democrat or Republican households. There is no excuse — Georgetown students are too polarized in their views on the presidential campaign.
How can this be? In college, change happens fast, but it seems like maturity dawns slower. While we’re learning about the history of political strife or pondering the problem of God, it would seem reasonable for us to also question our political beliefs. But somehow, we manage to jettison all of this soul-searching when it comes to politics.
I don’t think this is right. Forming our views so early leads to close-mindedness and misses an understanding of why we adopted those views in the first place. Watching the debates was prejudicial. Looking on Facebook was shameful.
My personal views on the presidential and vice-presidential debates were similar to those of most people: I thought that the former was stifling and the latter was much more helpful. But neither debate should have encouraged me to trespass on the decency of the candidates, like making fun of Biden’s smile or Romney’s PowerPoint style. Even worse, I found myself laughing along when someone would mimic the candidate they disliked and add in things they did not say. I also felt like apologizing when my friends trash-talked at the television when a candidates’ face was shown. This is all part of the fun of politics, you say?
America’s claim to the freest of free speech perpetuates the spirit of harsh criticism that is truly absent from other democracies around the world. But that shouldn’t mean that students, not to mention those at a Jesuit university that stresses open-mindedness, are not held to minimum bar of respect toward other political groups.
It is true that we inherit our political views from our parents. It is more true that our futures are so unpredictable that barely anyone knows who or where they’ll be in the next five years. This is unique to this specific time in our lives. When we are 30, chances are that we will know where we’ll be at 35. Taking care of kids, rising the ladder of the job we’re in, doing whatever we will have settled into doing.
This distinction is important because it might convince some of you readers to stop being so cemented in your political mindsets. Adults are allowed to be polarized because the stagnant elements of their lives — their jobs, social status, and most other financial considerations — determine who they’ll vote for.
We should be the least politically active, actually, because the campaign’s policies affect us the least financially. Even if we are financially independent — which is doubtful because we’re in college — we still have the most flexibility because we have the fewest stakes in the game. We don’t have families or jobs that depend on our contributions, so we don’t need to get so inflexible about something we have the actual flexibility to be flexible about.
But cynical finances aside, as students of a higher education, we entered Georgetown to question preconceived truths. It really seems careless of those of us who want to be politicians to tout our own views without fully considering those of our opponents. If the leaders of tomorrow are sitting in the classrooms and in front of the dorm room television screens today, then compromise will be even harder to obtain in our futures than it is now.
Masha Goncharova is a junior in the College.