What should we think of Bowdoin over-emphasizing the need for reaching a common ground between different political sides? What should we think of Arthur Brooks—who works at a right-wing think tank—coming to campus in an attempt to mediate a discussion on love and solidarity and its importance in bridging the social and political gap? What the posters about him forgot to advertise is that his political views are far-right, nowhere even close to the ‘center’ for which he claims to be advocating. The presence of Arthur Brooks only reaffirms the status quo that dominates this campus—the empty promise of joining together across party lines and fighting for a more just world. Before raising our fists in agreement with that point of view, we need to think about what this fight entails. And how exactly are we planning to fight for that cause?
The language of solidarity earns us compassion and promises us a future based on values of cooperation and mutual understanding between the sides. We are told that the problems we are facing nowadays can only be solved if we bridge the division that exists in politics. It tells us that the left and the right should come together, even if the values that both of those sides stand for are different. And it is not just the values that are different, but also the methods through which they would like to accomplish their goals. If we are to assume that the empowerment of first-generation, low-income students is a problem that can be addressed by both the right and the left, we must ask ourselves: how would each of the side do it? Would they find a common solution, or would the right rather inspire low-income, first-generation students to aim to work at a morally-corrupt government surveillance agency, while the left might want to destroy the system that created the conditions of existence for the low-income students in the first place?
While those differences might be applicable in a political system where the right and the left are clearly divided, such as in some European countries (Spain: PSOE, Podemos—on the left—and Vox or PC—on the right), we cannot ignore that the ideological differences still play an important part in the differences between the parties. And those differences dictate our trains of thoughts and the way we look at issues if we decide to understand something as being an issue. The political opinion we adhere to gives us the tools and instruments that we use in order to work towards our goals.
Trying to bridge the differences that exist between the left and the right, with the aim of finding the common ground based on compassion, love and unity, we might just throw ourselves into the teeth of the wolves. This suicidal act will be applauded by the loud voices on the other side of the spectrum, that are waiting only for the right moment to crush us with their ideology and assure us that’s what middle ground looks like. Before we get our power to rise up again, we will be locked in a system, playing by the rules of those that called for the common ground.
But now, the call for the middle ground is louder than ever. With the rise of the alt-right, the neo-fascists in Europe and the neo-Nazi group that has entered the Greek Parliament, anxiety has begun to crawl into our hearts and minds. With further movement, either to the right or to the left, the American people feel more divided than ever.
It is scary indeed, and the call to reach beyond ideology is present at every step we make in this society. We are told to lay our ideas aside and join together to try to find solutions that are objectively beneficial to this society. I would love to ask that person that believes in objective action, to tell me the truth: do you actually believe your thoughts hold no ideological bias?
Radu Stochita is a member of the Class of 2022.