By: Jen Strait
The United States is a great country, arguably the best in the world. This country is filled with wonderful people from all walks of life, who have different backgrounds, and who have different beliefs and values. It is well known that roughly half of actual voters vote Democrat, and the other half of the voters vote Republican. It is also not a secret that often the newly elected president represents the opposite party of the incumbent party. President George W. Bush replaced President Bill Clinton, who replaced President George H.W. Bush; all representing a switch in political parties. Recall President Obama replacing President George W. Bush, he campaigned under the mantra of “Hope and Change”. After eight years, voters may again be seeking a change because they didn’t experience the change that was promised to them., So why would we be surprised when the same thing happens this time around?
The morning after the Presidential election, many were saddened, shocked, and upset. All around the country, the Humphrey School included, students were comforted through their days. Why? If this is a natural shift in power, why was a large part of the population so utterly dumbfounded with the results? I believe the answer is clear; there is a monolithic and insulated political culture in the vast majority of colleges and universities across the country, and the mainstream media feeds into this culture by presenting, not just the facts like news should report, but a liberal bias to stories and news articles that many consumers acknowledge as fact. Colleges and universities are creating secluded point-of-view islands, for like-minded ideas to grow and amplify each other, these ideas are reinforced by the media. Ideas are not being challenged; people believe that other opinions do not exist or only their opinion exists or is valid. This culture does not allow students to prepare for everyday life in everyday jobs where we work through our differences on a daily basis, where our ideas and beliefs are questioned. Other ideas and viewpoints were clearly shown in the election this year. Just because one political party has more backings, like the universities and mainstream media, does not mean that the other view does not exist, or is not just as important.
The Humphrey School of Public Affairs, a school that was founded with the mission to “inspire, educate, and support innovative leaders to advance the common good in a diverse world”, is where change starts. Let us not be part of the problem, but part of the solution. It is time to change the culture in colleges and universities, and demand that we be inclusive of everyone’s ideas, beliefs and values. This includes the viewpoints of conservatives and liberals alike. When someone disagrees with you, don’t shut down. Talk with them and try and understand why they believe the things they do. Don’t put labels on others just because they voted differently than you, challenge them and let them challenge you. Hubert Humphrey said “It is not what they take away from you that count. It’s what you do with what you have left”. Let’s take Humphrey’s advice and not protest and riot, and feel that something was taken away. Let’s make the change; challenge ourselves to understand why this happened and how we can learn from it to advance the common good.
About Humphrey School of Public Affairs (n.d) Retrieved from www.hhh.umn.edu/about-humphrey-school (accessed 11/15/16)
Hubert H. Humphrey Quotes. Retrieved from www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/h/hubert_h_humphrey.html (accessed 11/15/16)