A call for broader political conversation

February 24th, 2016



As I was in the newsroom this week, I looked over what the Campus section had written, as usual, and I saw the article that talked about the on-campus lecture called “Sovereign Masculinity: The War on Terror, Mass Shootings, and the Trump Campaign.”


Now, if you read my column on a somewhat regular basis, you would know that I love guest lectures—I wrote about how valuable I think that they are a week or two ago—and I was really bummed when I couldn’t show up to this one. I make it a point to try and listen to as many guest speakers as I can, especially when they are even somewhat related to political science or current affairs.


But I had to go to Miami University for a Model Arab League competition (we won first place, by the way—congrats to the team) and missed it, though I am told it was well attended and entertaining. People who were there told me that the speaker, Bonnie Mann, took a philosophical approach to explain the rise of Donald Trump and, more broadly, certain aspects of the modern political climate in the United States.


Again, I wasn’t there, so I cannot really comment on how the talk went myself—I read about it after the fact and was told about it, but simply from that I cannot determine whether I agree or disagree with Ms. Mann’s approach. But the entire event did make me ask myself, “why don’t we have more of these?”


Not more guest lectures—John Carroll does a great job, especially for a small school, at bringing in distinguished visitors.


What I mean to say is, why don’t we have more social scientists speak about the modern political climate in America from the point of view of their respective disciplines?


The 2016 election has the potential to be, arguably, the most intriguing in American history—there is a very good chance that come November, Americans could be forced to select either an authoritarian-like right-winger or a “democratic socialist” to lead the world’s most powerful nation. The world of American politics is remarkably polarized and we all, as an electorate, have a great many foreign policy decisions looming on the horizon that will redefine our role in the international political arena.


That’s a lot to think about. Accordingly, I think it would be great for the University to sponsor a lecture series that offers interpretations of today’s political climate from a variety of social-scientific standpoints. It wouldn’t have to be guest lecturers, either—JCU is filled with brilliant professors in the College of Arts & Sciences that could present some great standpoints.


Naturally, the political science department has and will continue to make much ado about the upcoming elections. But it would be very beneficial for the student body of John Carroll to be offered explanations of their political culture from a philosophical, sociological, economic, historical, psychological, and perhaps even theological vantage point.


Compared to other demographics, we are not very politically active. Our age group is notorious for sporting a shamefully low voter turnout for each election.


Perhaps understanding our unique political culture from a number of diverse, academic standpoints would help the JCU community not only show up to the polls, but also understand our complicated political environment and make a well-educated decision in November.