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A Break from the Liberal Agenda

In the October Bulletin, it shocked me a bit to see a Swarthmore student writing an article in support of Romney. Danielle Charette ’14 wrote very eloquently about the conservative cause and put it in a Swarthmore context. Her debating opponent, Carmen Smith-Estrada ’14, also did a good job of defending Obama in terms of his support for college student finances.

Dan Baker P’12
Effort of the Poconos, Pa.

I was thrilled to read the articles about Peter Berkowitz ’81 and Diana Furchtgott-Roth ’79 in the October Bulletin. I’m still the liberal Democrat that I was at Swat, so I don’t agree with the ideas they discussed. But it was exciting to see profiles of Swarthmore grads who are not dyed-in-the-wool liberals.

On that very politically active campus, I was in Amnesty International, and I held two internships in Washington, D.C., fighting the death penalty. But one of my great frustrations was the lack of ideological diversity. I met a grand total of four students who were willing to identify themselves as Republicans while I was at Swarthmore. For me, the dominance of a liberal perspective meant that certain assumptions went unchallenged, and we liberals developed a sense of arrogance about our positions.

There’s been a lot of talk over the years about political correctness on college campuses. Political correctness is simply liberal peer pressure. Swarthmore students, like all people of that age, are subject to and enforcers of demands to adhere to a group belief system. The fact that Swarthmore places a strong emphasis on independent thinking ameliorates that somewhat. To this day I am deeply skeptical of the pronouncements of liberal academic social critics because of my experience at Swarthmore.

I have recently noticed that some members of the Swarthmore power structure are aware of this unfortunate overabundance of liberals and have started to address it. I have long read the Bulletin, usually cover to cover, and enjoyed it. But I also felt that there was almost always the same emphasis on highlighting alumni and causes that fell in line with a liberal agenda. So reading about conservatives in the Bulletin—even if I completely disagree with their ideas—is wonderfully refreshing.

John Halbert ’89
Los Angeles

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