Even in the most well-planned and thought out conversations – especially of the political variety – the constant passion-fueled flow of ideas, rebuttals, and agreements take the discussion into places that weren’t initially accounted for. If you add in the fact that one of the conversants is only fully exploring some of these topics for the first time, it’s only natural that some talking points may be left behind unintentionally. Not only is this the sign of a good conversation – as you rightfully noted – but it’s also the sign of a good learning experience. As not only is this an opportunity for me to openly talk out my worldview with an academic mentor, but it’s also an opportunity for me to expand my understanding of the world and all its complexities. After all, isn’t that what college is for?
With that being said, let me tackle some of those topics that were temporarily left on the table. Since you laid them out in such an organized fashion, I will respond to them in kind – point by point.
- You’re quite right. I accidently neglected my promise of explaining my support for Sanders. It would seem that political passion eclipsed the initial point of my antepenultimate piece. After all, the election is over. Good ol’ Bernie is waving goodbye in my rearview mirror, while President Trump taking up most of my current focus. But let’s go back to the 2016 election for a bit.
Even though the election wasn’t all that long ago, my stance on politics has changed significantly since then. While I’m still registered as a Democrat, I’ve been feeling a pull toward a more Rockefeller Republican way of thinking. However, in my first year of college – when the presidential debates were just starting up – I was much more aligned with the left end of the political spectrum than I am now. Even then, I wouldn’t have called myself a socialist, but I didn’t consider it to be the boogey man that many older Americans believe it to be. Now, on the other hand, I find myself firmly in the corner of Capitalism. At the time, I was heavily influenced by the media I was consuming, but I slowly weened myself onto a more moderate media diet. The collegiate exposure to new ideas and ways of thinking also contributed to my political experimentation and growth. I have the wide collection of people I’ve come into contact with at Lycoming College to thank for that, including Dr. Robert Jacques.
So, while I was quick to support Sanders because that’s what I was constantly told to do by my anti-establishment media sources, I would still probably prefer him to Trump – if they were my only two choices. The main reason for this is I consider Sanders to be a more stable option than Trump. Not only is Sanders experienced, but he’s likeable and appears to have a firm grasp on what he believes and seeks to accomplish.
That filters into my reasoning for trusting Sanders. He was likable and consistent. He has been in the political arena for a long time, and has been staunchly advocating for his ideas even before they were popular on a national level. Now, while I say that, I do think it’s important for a politician to have a bit of wiggle room to change their position on the issues. A rigid mind is a dangerous thing in general, and especially dangerous in politics. However, some of the things he has been advocating for were selling points for me.
Out of my list of ten political interests, I think Sanders would support 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8. I don’t think he’d be opposed to 7, 9, and 10. So, the one political interest of mine that would be in stark opposition to Sander’s agenda is number 1. Due to his Socialist leaning, Sander’s main avenue for accomplishing his goals and fulfilling his campaign promises would be through federal power. While that is unfortunate, and I would rather have a more state-based solution to many of these issues, I don’t think any candidate – Democrat or Republican – seriously considered reducing federal power. The Democrats are the federal party, and most Republicans only seem to give shallow lip service to the idea of states’ rights.
In conclusion, as far as why I supported Sanders, I liked him because I was an ardent liberal, our political interests aligned, he was likeable to me, and he wasn’t Donald Trump in any way. And, now that I think about it, there was also an underdog quality to Sanders that attracted me to him as well. Some people saw that in Trump as well, but I’d seen Trump in the mainstream media for so many years that he still seemed pretty establishment to me.
- I want to be clear that I don’t think any kind of physical barrier between the United States and Mexico is a bad idea. However, Trump’s call for a “big, beautiful,” concrete wall all along our southern border seems like a very simplistic view of how borders work. It’s not as if we just put up a wall, and our border issues are suddenly solved. Not to mention, it’s not as if the southern border of the United States is a completely straight line. The border is cut up by rivers, natural obstacles, and privately-owned land. So, in my eyes, such a solution is ineffective in the long run.
While I’m not a politician, engineer, or construction expert, here is my immediate thinking on the matter. Where there are open spaces in our border, it would be good to reinforce those vulnerable spots with double fencing. The fencing would be reinforced with barbed wire, making them harder to climb and cut through. There are some areas along the already established border that have utilized this tactic, and it has heavily reduced the amount of successful entry cases. All throughout the border, especially the areas that are harder to fence off, we would implement a round the clock regiment of sentries and guards. They would be aided by some simple support methods, such as trained dogs, as well as benefit from technological assistants, such as cameras, sensors, and drones.
Currently, the biggest impediment to this sort of the approach is the fact that the CBP (Customs and Borders Protection) is wholly underfunded and understaffed. It is important that the federal government, as well as the states that are most harshly effected by illegal immigration, execute on an initiative to bolster the manpower of the CPB. Along with funding that could be allocated to the physical and technological buildup of the border, this would allow for a more effective strategy and approach to securing the southernmost regions of the United States.
- You rightly categorized my use of “boarders” as a typo. I do indeed believe that we have to secure the U.S. borders to protect the well-being of American citizens. It’s not that I view every illegal immigrant as a criminal or a national security threat, but any unauthorized entry into the territory of the United States by a foreign person or persons is an inherently illegal act and a disregard for the sovereignty of the United States of America.
I think both the extreme left and the extreme right are wrong in how they wish to approach this situation. We should not illegally harbor a foreign entrant into the United States. However, we also shouldn’t harshly deport every single undocumented foreigner. Those who have lived here for many years, and have already ingratiated themselves into the American culture and their community, should not be subject to immediate deportation. Their children should also not be subject to deportation, as – if they were born here – they are practically American in every way other than citizenship. On the other hand, those that either offer no benefit to the United States or openly burden the United States by way of criminal activity, should not be allowed to remain within our country.
So, I suppose my answer to your question is somewhere in the middle. We have to be firm in the securement of our borders and the sovereignty which those borders protect. At the same time, we have to offer a compassionate helping hand to those who have benefited the United States, have no connection to their place of origin, or had no choice in the decision to illegally enter the country. Once we separate the despicable from the redeemable, a path to citizenship should be offered to those that are deemed capable of remaining within the United States.
- While I can always enjoy an instance of word play, I hope I’ve made a good argument in my previous points as to why I wouldn’t label myself – or want to be labeled as – a nationalist socialist. Socialism, nationalism, and internationalism, are all terms that I don’t think fall into the folder of Michael Dressler. While Capitalist is a good contender for that folder, there’s only one thing currently resting in there – American.
Next, I’d like to respond to some of your thoughts on my last piece. The first topic I’m going to tackle is the idea of equality, and what I meant when I included it on my list of core American values. My response will most likely be quite short, as you summed up my thoughts perfectly when you said, “By equality Republicans mean equal treatment before the law. And that’s all.”
As a republican (not a member of the political party, but one who lives within a republic), I fall in line with the tradition of valuing equality as being equal before the law. I wasn’t advocating for equality of economics, opportunity, or lifestyle, but instead for the fair treatment of all Americans when it comes to how they are recognized by the United States legal system. Not one form of American is either superior or inferior than another when it comes to how they’re viewed by the law. It’s as cut and dry as that. However, I understand your need for clarification. It would seem that all kinds of groups advocate for all kinds of “equality” these days, so it’s hard to identify who’s being intellectually honest when touting their views.
Now, I’d like to move on to the idea of, as you put it, “unity of individualism.” When I was coming up with the list of what I see as the core values of America, even I initially saw the ideas of individualism and unity as contradictory. However, after a good amount of thought, I began to see these seemingly oppositional ideas as capable of working together. I did so by thinking back to your class on business ethics. I started to think of Friedrich Hayek and the idea of catallaxy.
For those who have never heard of this idea, Hayek defines it as such: “the order brought about by the mutual adjustment of many individual economies in a market.” What Hayek is essentially saying is that the accepted order of society is best brought about by individuals perusing their own ends. This is how nearly all of American society has been established, while it also allows for it to be malleable and expand with the ever-changing trends of society.
Catallaxy is how I connect the ideas of unity and individualism. The United States of America is one united nation, made up of fifty individual states with their own flags, laws, customs, and microcosms of American culture. Through these states working individually toward their own goals within their own state borders, they improve the United States as a whole. They are united under the blanket of the United States, but individual in their concerns and priorities. The same can be said at an even smaller level when it comes to U.S. citizens. Even one of our country’s traditional mottos, E pluribus unum, recognizes that America is unified by the coming together of individuals – individual states, citizens, and backgrounds.
So, by putting these two ideas side by side under the label of core American values, I’m saying that America values the individualism of its many parts while remaining united as a whole.
Finally, I want to lightly touch on what I said about Islamists and white supremacists, and how they fit into America. However, instead of expanding on that right now, I thought this would be a good opportunity to fold this issue into a larger, more topical, issue – free speech. They’re has been a lot of discussion in modern America concerning free speech, how it’s been infringed upon, and by whom. For example, I hear college campuses being brought up more and more when it comes to the 1st amendment and the degradation of its promised rights. However, on the other side, many liberals fear that Trump is a threat to free speech, due to his dislike and threats toward journalists.
Before I give my thoughts on the matter, I’m interested in your point of view here. Is the 1st amendment and free speech truly in danger of being eroded by either the right or the left? And, if it is, what exactly should the American people do to stem the tide of tyranny, and uphold their most treasured constitutional right?