The past two years has seen an unmistakable rise in the level of vitriol in our nation’s political discourse. The election of a deeply unpopular president and the implementation of misguided policies have served only to acidify further the national political conversation. It doesn’t need to be that way on Cornell’s campus. Hopefully, it won’t be.
Last week, Natalie Brown ’18 was elected president of the Cornell University College Democrats. Yesterday, Austin McLaughlin ’18 was elected president of the Cornell University College Republicans. This new generation of campus political leaders has in front of them an important opportunity. In an age of such violent rhetoric, Brown and McLaughlin can set an example for the rest of the student body by working cooperatively to nurture a productive and civil political discussion at Cornell.
For too long, controversy has been the lens through which campus political relationships develop. Whether in regards to guest speakers, ill-advised public statements or simple misunderstandings, a culture of controversy has damaged not just the relationship between the two political parties, but the political discourse in general. It’s time to refocus — Cornell is still an educational institution, and those wishing to educate themselves in politics should not be compelled to act within an antagonistic system.
Both Brown and McLaughlin would do well to heed the words of Maya Angelou: “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” There are causes that unite us across partisan boundaries, concerns that transcend political persuasion. These two organizations, as well as all the students not associated with either, have the same goal in mind: the betterment of Cornell, the Cornell community and the United States of America. It’s a new beginning for Democrats and Republicans alike. Let’s make it a bipartisan one.