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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Do you know what you think?

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My mother is easily the most influential person in my life, and she used to work for Ronald Reagan. Most of my friends at Carleton are aware of the former, but not the latter. It’s a bit awkward to admit to people on a campus as liberal as Carleton that someone who raised you supported the hero of the Republican Party. And if I do decide to share this piece of information with a friend it’s probably because we’re close enough that I don’t fear their derision. Now, to my knowledge, my parents aren’t fully supportive of the Republicans as of late. My mom, in particular, is devastated about the damage our governor, Scott Walker, has wreaked on Wisconsin. Still, they lean conservative on many issues, whereas I identify as a Democrat and am interested in working in Democratic politics after I graduate from Carleton.

I once wrote in a Viewpoint column that something I appreciate about this place is Carls’ desire to be informed and to base their political opinions on something more than just their parents’ views, a desire I felt was lacking among my high school peers. This observation might have been made through rose-colored glasses, however. More recently, a friend told me a story about a political science class of hers in which everyone had specific political ideologies they were assigned to portray during a class discussion. She was tasked with playing a libertarian and was met with complete silence—even after her professor prompted her classmates—as to what might be problematic about her assigned perspective. Carleton students are unable to make a case against libertarianism!

The optimist in me wants to believe that the silence in my friend’s story had more to do with the fact that her class was a 1a than anything else, but it is disconcerting and made me question whether Carls, many of whom come from liberal-leaning families, really do know why they think what they think. I always want to be able to justify my beliefs to myself, which is why I seek a balanced perspective. I try to diversify the news sources I access, though Fox News is out of the question, and stay relatively open-minded. Because I don’t always agree with the people I love. I know them to be smart, accomplished and empathetic. I can’t close myself off from ideas that don’t immediately strike a chord with me. I think that is a great gift for parents to give their children, however inadvertent it may be.

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