The results of Tuesday’s national, state and local elections have brought hope to those Americans who, this time last year, were distraught with the state of the nation’s politics.
The contrast is stark to the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, when many on Bowdoin’s campus came together in opposition to the new president, fueled by a sense of anger, frustration and acute injustice.
One year after the election—a period which has been supersaturated with controversy and scandal—we should take a moment to reflect on the status of political engagement on campus. When each day brings a fresh and newly shocking headline, our political attention spans atrophy. Reactions to the newest bit of shocking news from Washington can range from apathy to outrage. Yet, this outrage is too often short-lived as the next scandal seems always to arrive before the last has settled. Cloistered in our small and insular campus, we watch news slip from view even more rapidly, especially when the effects of a new policy or law do not always touch us directly.
We must try consciously to counteract this amnesia. A sampling of still-ongoing political fights: the Trump administration’s travel ban is still caught up in the federal courts; the US is still slated to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement; the special prosecutor is still investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russian interests; DACA will still come to an end in 2018 without intervention from the courts.
Even as the front pages are dominated by investigations into high-profile instances of sexual assault in Hollywood and beyond, the Senate’s new tax bill and the latest horrific mass-shooting, the issues and debates that, though gone from A1 are still very present in the nation. It’s important that we remain conscious of this fact and let it guide our actions.
Continue to call your senators, especially about issues that have fallen out of the national spotlight. Continue to stay updated with the aftermath of the events that were the major headlines just months ago, as well as the most recent news.
Finally, Bowdoin as an institution can take actions on the national stage that we, as individuals, cannot. We reported this week that Bowdoin joined several other colleges and universities in submitting an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit filed by the University of California, challenging the Trump administration’s plan to terminate the DACA program. Although, on its own, this is only a small step, it represents a legitimate legal and political action that is potentially more influential on the national stage than actions that we as individuals can take on our own. We should be aware of opportunities to leverage this influence when it could make a difference.
While the news cycle is short, our memories should not be.
This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of Rachael Allen, Anjulee Bhalla, Harry DiPrinzio, Sarah Drumm, Ellice Lueders, Ian Ward and Allison Wei.