Student leaders must look beyond liberal and conservative

Column by Chad Reese

To those who use the terms liberal or conservative as an insult, I kindly ask you to either leave the country or voluntarily surrender your right to free speech.

Now, intentionally volatile and over-the-top language aside, I find myself consistently shocked and frightened by the level of extremism displayed by politically motivated individuals both here on campus and in the nation as a whole.

This is not to say that it is wrong to hold ideals that are in line with a particular political party. However, when the course of national debate turns in such a manner that it forgets the basic meaning of the words it uses, responsible citizens are duty-bound to call out ignorance when they see it.

Specifically, the term “liberal” has taken on a very specific meaning in today’s political climate. Namely, it implies a tree-hugging, pot-smoking, latte-drinking, over-taxing, war-fearing elitist intellectual. We’ll ignore, for a moment, that the greatest political advancements ever made by man were made by liberals, chief among those being the creation of democracy as a system of government and the very revolution that made America a nation.

My apologies for shattering your world, extremist conservatives, but you would have no nation in which to place illegal wiretaps if it weren’t for those cursed elitist liberals.

In the most academic sense of the word, to be liberal merely means to look towards progress. It is a true shame that the unjustified hate emanating from the current political climate of this country has led to the degeneration of our very language to the point that it is no longer politically feasible to identify yourself as one who believes that the future could be better with certain changes. I guess the next time I get a new idea I should go ahead and grab a joint and a cup of Starbucks.

Liberals, to be fair, are not the only victims of this phenomenon. Extremists on the left are equally willing to point out the war-mongering, poor-hating, eco-terrorizing fascists of the opposite end of the political spectrum. Of course, those who use the term conservative as an insult likewise ignore that liberal ideals have led to some of the most politically harmful events in history.

While I suppose that many reading this column may not remember it, the spread of communism was due, in large part, to rampant and uncontained liberal thought. One could argue that the half-century-long Cold War that threatened to destroy the entire world on multiple occasions was created primarily because of an overreaction on the part of liberal factions within nations who believed communism would lead them to utopia.

Unfortunately, as we know with our eagle-eye hindsight, liberal thinking created tyrannies disguised as communities of complete fairness and crafted oligarchies out of what should have been nonexistent governments.

I suppose that some of you may find me to be terribly pessimistic by this point. After all, if we all become liberals, communism will take over the world. On the other hand, if we were all conservatives, democracy would crumble, and all of our freedoms would vanish from humanity.

Those of you who have reached this conclusion have completely missed the point.

My true meaning is, in fact, remarkably simple to grasp: Stop acting like children.

Leaders of our nation, our state, our city and, unfortunately, even organizations on this very campus have dedicated the power of communication inherent in their offices to the spreading of hate and misinformation.

I mention leaders of campus organizations specifically because it is especially disheartening to see that here, on the grounds of an institute of higher learning, students elected by their peers have failed their solemn duty to work for the betterment of those around them.

Are students on this campus so consumed with ambition that organizations have become mere stepladders to networking opportunities instead of the platforms for change that they have the potential to be?

To my fellow students who squander the chance to lead by example and truly make a difference in the tone of political discourse on this campus, I can only say that I hope for a day in which discussions between ideologically opposed individuals can take place in a civil manner.

Perhaps, someday, student leaders on this campus will live up to their inherent duty and begin to pave the way for that change.

Forgive me if I’m not holding my breath.

Chad Reese is a philosophy and political science junior. E-mail [email protected]