We are not supposed to talk about this: Introductions

Fariba Lale – Columnist

Q: What is it that we’re doing?

A: In this column, Luther and I will be offering contrasting perspectives on politics as we approach the general election this November. We will be selecting a different topic every week and writing independently on those topics, rather than directly engaging with or debating each other. I think this format is important because it will allow each of us space to explain our views without the added tension, which debating often involves. 

Q: What are you looking to accomplish with this column?

A: As far as my personal involvement goes, I am really looking forward to seeing how these joint pieces compare with one another. Since we are writing separately, we each have the freedom to shape our discussion in a way that makes the most sense to us, which I think will be an effective way of approaching a subject that can be so divisive. 

   I say this at the risk of sounding unnecessarily obvious and corny, but we are all coming from a different place and have different priorities and concerns that shape our understanding of the world. While I cannot speak for everyone, in my experience, it can be easy to forget this and to make assumptions about why others believe what they do. Political discourse can become very insulated in that sense. I am always trying to de-program this mechanism in myself. 

  I do not know everything. I have blind spots and I know my experiences are not shared by everyone. This will not be revealed to me, though, without hearing those perspectives that differ from my own. In a more general, practical sense, I think this exchange of differing ideas is essential to collaboration and productive change. 

   My hope is that this column, by providing a space for these differences, will allow us and our readers a chance to explore some of these issues from an angle we might not usually consider.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: I am a senior at Lawrence University, and I am studying (after a number of switches between majors) English. I am off-campus this term, currently living in S.C. with my mom, a couple of my siblings and our three kitties. It is my first term writing for The Lawrentian, although I cohosted the podcast with Luther last term, and I am really excited to have the opportunity to work on this project our editor, Genevieve, has put together. 

Q: Why are politics important to you? Why this election specifically?  

A: Honestly, I am interested in this subject because I feel like I cannot get away from it. Whether or not we are perpetually conscious of it, political forces affect all of our lives. As a member of this society, I think it is extremely important that we are aware of the functions of our government and the things it does in our name and for our community. 

   This is meant to be a democratic society and our political leaders are meant to work for us, a power we can only achieve through knowledge. Personally, I am continually disappointed with the actions of our government, which has made me want to learn more about the things with which I agree and disagree, why that is and what alternatives may be available. 

   I could come up with a laundry list of reasons why this moment in history is significant, from historical uprisings across the nation to impending climate catastrophe. To say that the election itself will be messy is a gross understatement, and I know I am not the only one who has been struggling with the decision of how to vote this November. It is not my intention to underestimate the harm four more years of President Trump will undoubtedly inflict on our country and its most vulnerable citizens. 

   On the flip side, though, the Democratic Party has nominated someone who, I would argue, has the most dangerous and well-established record of any of the candidates who campaigned last year. Along with this, Joe Biden has repeatedly refused to offer left-leaning and young voters, anything to vote for, hinging his success, instead, on enough people voting against the current president. 

   This approach is very concerning, considering that the pressure on him to act in the interest of his voters will only fall once he takes office. Altogether, it feels like we have been given very few options or, at least, not very good ones. Trying to untangle this situation and what the outcome of this election, whichever way it goes, means for our country and for its future is vitally important. It feels to me that we are at a turning point, and we need to pay attention now more than ever to know where we will go from here. 

Q: How would you classify your views?

A: Generally, I just describe my views as leftist since there is already so much division on the left. Between the constant disagreements of liberals and leftists and then the additional fracturing within the leftist movement, between people who can’t decide whether to call themselves a Marxist or a communist or a socialist or a DemSoc, I kind of get sick of that discussion. 

   I find, personally, that I move through these labels a lot. As recently as a few months ago, I was sure that I identified with socialism most closely, but, now, I find myself leaning more towards communist or even anarchist thought. 

   Which is not to say that distinctions between these categories are not real or significant, but I just feel that, right now, we all have more in common with each other than not. Basically, if you are some brand of anti-capitalist, it is likely we will share a lot of common ground.

Luther Abel – Columnist

Q: What are you looking to accomplish with this column?

A: My aim with this column is to expose readers to actual conservative thought. I wish to expand readers’ perceptions beyond the amusing clips pulled by Last Week Tonight or The Daily Show of Fox News’ Sean Hannity or Tucker Carlson — very cathartic I’m sure — however, hardly representative of the right side of the aisle.    

    Likewise, my own views are my own and may not be shared by my political bedfellows fully; however, they should better reflect conservatism’s thoughts than the all-too-frequent New York Times or Washington Post pieces — gorilla-in-the-mist style — “Why is it that conservatives think this way” sort of articles. 

   Much of what I’ll write you may shake your head at, and that is quite alright. But know that I, like you, wish for human flourishing, equality and peace. Peaceful disagreement is liberal, may we strive to maintain such a standard. I came to Lawrence to disagree with most everyone, and I have not been disappointed thus far.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.

A: My name is Luther Abel. I am a junior, majoring in English. Before Lawrence, I served in the U.S. Navy for six years as a mechanic, cryogenic tech and military policeman — thankfully not simultaneously. I was deployed thrice, each time to the waters around Southeast Asia. 

   Married now for four years, my wife and I recently purchased a home in the northwest corner of Appleton. When not busy with schoolwork, I can be found wrenching on cars, gaming or updating our house. 

   This past summer, I interned with the National Review, a conservative publication begun by William F. Buckley, based in Manhattan. My intention post-graduation is to work as a roving editor, traveling to hotspots within the U.S. and internationally. 

Q: Why are politics important to you? Why this election specifically?

A: Politics are important to me because they are important to others who would use politics to curtail not only my freedoms but those of the minority — whether the minority be ideological, racial, etc. it matters little to me. 

   My ideal world would have the federal government so reduced that Ppesidential elections would be treated like the Greenville Town Board elections are now, that is to say, barely registering. I think power should be maintained at the most local level possible, as this is where you and I have the best ability to effect change. 

   I am interested in this election specifically because, like every election, it is “THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION EVER, BECAUSE” — and who can argue with that reasoning? The presidential result does not bother me much either way. I think Joe Biden is diminished and likely to acquiesce to the more radical parts of his coalition, and I think Trump is uniquely gifted at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. 

   Given my desire to see the federal government as ineffective as possible, I think both have great merit on that front. No, the component of the upcoming elections which most interests me is the Senate. Should the GOP retain control, they’ll make life quite difficult for a Biden administration and continue the exquisite parade of originalist and textualist judges being appointed to various benches should Trump win. 

   What keeps me up at night — at least a few minutes, anyway — is the idea of a solidly blue Senate and House with Biden in the Oval Office. The amount of anti-scientific “Green New Deal” bunk that would be generated by such a trifecta would likely ensure the funds weren’t available for practical climate-conscious legislation to be made later — not that I should ever doubt either Democrat or GOP administrations’ abilities to deficit spend. 

Q: How would you classify your views?

A: My views are fairly straight-forward. Conservatives do not have an answer for how the world should be; it’s not a holistic thought-program like progressivism, Marxism, etc. Checks on the worst excesses of mankind are generally good, needless restriction of the citizenry’s liberties is bad. 

   I think the government is the crudest way to accomplish something, and that those who keep seeing government-involvement as a panacea for suffering are delusional, power-hungry or both. If the gods will not save you, what makes you think a politician will?