We have reached the end of the Liberal Lens.
This column began as a spontaneous decision in 2008 at the Albertsons on Foothill Boulevard. I ran into one of my friends who worked at the Mustang Daily on the night of the first debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. She talked me into writing a guest column. I wrote that guest column entirely for fun, and it turned into this wonderful two-year discussion about politics and society.
I feel very grateful to the campus and the 2009 and 2010 staff at the Mustang Daily for allowing me to explore politics through this platform.
I don’t know whether I had ideas worthy of discussion beyond the second-to-last page of the newspaper, or whether I made someone smile on a Thursday morning — I hope I achieved both of those things — but I believe I can claim that I contributed to the discussion on campus, whether it was regarding national politics or issues on campus.
I spent some time reminiscing in the archives of my columns this week, and as I sip coffee at Black Horse and write my last column, I feel at peace with the discussion we’ve had. I’ve advocated for thinking through your own beliefs, for not allowing society to dictate what you believe and for holding consistent beliefs. I rejected ideology, and I championed logic and reason.
This column can be described as an attempt to portray myself through my writing. By reading my column, you have spent time reading about my political identity and my beliefs. And 59 articles later, I honestly can’t think of anything further that needs to be said to explain what I believe to be true about politics.
Our journey began during an election season — when the best ideas for America are put forth for consideration — and also during a dark time in our history when the government was secretive and favored the wealthiest and corrupt in our society over middle class and poor Americans. The wicks on the torches of freedom and justice in this country were damp with the dew of corruption, cronyism and deception. We are only now beginning to feel the effects from the wounds we suffered at the hands of the Bush administration.
The election of Barack Obama was one step in the direction of righting the wrongs of our racist past, and it renewed the warmth and glow of our country to the rest of the world, which began to have faith in the strength of the American spirit again. As I wrote in one of my earlier columns, with Obama as president, we entered into the age of ideas, and, I had hoped, intelligent, compassionate legislation.
This brought us to the debate over whether public option health care was right for our country. The voices of regression and stagnancy fought us every step of the way with lies and gloomy predictions, while they sipped their cold tea in fear-mongering clusters. But after some compromise — and let’s be honest, some sell-outs — the government provided relief to families all over the United States who had lost or couldn’t afford health insurance. Through this legislation, we joined our steps with the progress of the other developed nations.
The end of the debate over how much government regulation should be allowed in our capitalist economy will extend far beyond the now dying voice of my column, just as its conception happened before any of us students were born. But the conversation will continue, and as long as that conversation is couched in the willingness to compromise, I am confident that the end is in sight.
However, the larger political discussion must go on here at Cal Poly as America faces new issues and challenges — and I would be deeply disappointed if mine was the last liberal voice on campus. Walt Whitman’s poem “To Poets to Come” nicely captures the spirit of the task that I’m passing on to the campus for next year.
Poets to come! orators, singers, musicians to come!
Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for,
But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater than
Arouse! for you must justify me.
I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future,
I but advance a moment only to wheel and hurry back in the
I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping, turns a
casual look upon you and then averts his face,
Leaving it to you to prove and define it,
Expecting the main things from you.
The political argument I’ve begun stops with me incomplete, and can only be continued with the next person. I’m expecting the future columnist to create something entirely new and their own, while continuing in the tradition I’ve set up here — to write using reason and logic, to challenge your colleagues to think for themselves, and also to critically think about the statements made by politicians and the media. As Whitman wrote in his poem, so I write to you: “Arouse! For you must justify me.”