Luther College Chips

Luther needs to promote inter-party dialogue

Elyse Grothaus, News Editor

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Growing up in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, I often felt as if I was the only liberal in a 30 mile radius. To give you an idea, at my high school we held a mock election in 2012 and over 90% of the student population voted for Mitt Romney. No joke. Any political debate in school seemed to quickly turn into Elyse — and perhaps one or two others — versus the rest of the class. But this all changed when I decided to attend Luther College.

Much of the Luther student body prides itself on being liberal, open-minded, and progressive. And I must say that engaging with such forward-thinking people has been one of the most energizing aspects of my college experience. These interactions have been shockingly different than those of my high school years. Specifically, I no longer feel like the only liberally-minded person in my classes, and I almost always feel safe and supported in my beliefs.

So, I have experienced two very different political climates in my lifetime: one where I felt like the only liberal among conservatives and one where I feel that I am a liberal among many other liberals. To be honest, I do not like either option.

I guess I selfishly prefer being around like-minded individuals because I feel validated, but I have also found that I have become “lazier” in my beliefs. I have no close friends here who look critically at my political points of view and question why I think the way I do. Also, knowing how it feels to be the put down for my beliefs makes it hard to hear people speak badly about conservatives.

“Luther prides itself as an open-minded and progressive campus, but as other recent events have shown, we still have a long way to go in terms of inclusivity. One more example of this is in our unwillingness to listen to and engage with those who have different political beliefs than our own.”

– Elyse Grothaus (‘19)

Before the 2016 election, dialogue about political beliefs seemed to be a “hot topic” on Luther’s campus. I remember attending a variety of events that served to encourage this, including a talk by Cornel West and Robert George called “The Bond of Truth Seeking: Friendship and Integrity in an Age of Ideology” and a dialogue debate between Shannon Baker (‘20) and Asha Aden (‘20) titled “Is Abortion Permissible?” I felt that these events were interesting and thought-provoking, and most importantly, they forced people to listen to a different political point of view. But there have been fewer and fewer of these types of events the longer Trump has been in office.

However, since that fateful day on November 8, 2016, Donald Trump has become the face of conservatives. Since then, and as our country’s government continues to fill with more and more disgraceful leaders — and people — who are a part of the GOP, I have noticed the number of events promoting inter-party dialogue dwindle on our campus. This year, we do not even have an active Luther Republicans Club. Personally, I try to remember the John McCains of the world — conservatives who may have beliefs different than my own but who are undoubtedly good people.

As I said earlier, Luther prides itself as an open-minded and progressive campus, but as other recent events have shown, we still have a long way to go in terms of inclusivity. One more example of this is our unwillingness to listen to and engage with those who have different political beliefs than our own. I hope that the Luther community will continue to work to make this campus a more inclusive place — in every way.

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