A recent article in the Denver Post caught my eye. Not because of the actual topic the article was written about, but because of one of the assertions made by the political consultant interviewed in the story: “…Colorado voters don’t like extremists.”
It was a simple assertion, but it made me realize something. The more I talk to people on campus, the more I tend to agree.
For some reason, in an age where Democrats and Republicans are so watered down from what they used to be, it’s sometime hard to tell them apart. Many people are intimidated when major changes are proposed when it comes to things like abortion and gun control. The problem doesn’t lie with the fact that there is a lack of opinionated people; the problem lies with the fact that being opinionated is being seen more and more as a negative trait.
Over the four years I’ve been in school at CSU I’ve noticed a notable decline in people willing to associate themselves with a political party. Even in classes with mandatory participation, where having an opinion is part of your duty as a student, it’s easy to see a certain discomfort every time people are asked for their opinions on important issues. Most of the opinions shared by other are streamlined to the point where they could almost be mistaken for talking points at a political debate.
It really does come down to people being afraid to rock the boat. It’s much easier to maintain a comfortable balance and maintain the status quo with most conversations, and, looking at recent events in the news, it’s not hard to understand why many people do.
The first article from the Denver Post alluded to the two Colorado lawmakers recalled for attempting to push new laws on gun control, but even on arguable cases such as that, it has become clear that people with “extreme” opinions are starting to have a target stuck on their back.
During the summer, a rather revealing article was written about a feminist society formed in Altrincham in the UK, where a group of high school level girls were shown an unbelievable amount of abuse simply for presuming to have an opinion at all. Although some may argue this kind of behavior doesn’t translate to the United States, a vast amount of the abuse experienced by these girls was online, and, even on college campuses, you don’t have to look far to find people who have no love for feminists.
Even looking at smaller things, like funding the Obamacare program throughout the US, we see huge resistance to this policy without even having tried it in the first place. The mere existence of it in fact so offends people’s senses that many are unwilling to try it.
There are stubborn resistances to any differing opinions and any chance of any real, notable change are why people are beginning to hear more and more complaints about the extreme homogenization in politics. It’s hard to find motivation to change things when changing things may well cost you your job.
As a college student, I’ve always done my best to, at the very least, protect other’s rights to have an opinion and make real changes to the way the country currently works. College students in particular are at an age where they can help make big sweeping change to their generation, and more and more, we see that college students are backing away from this calling.
In an age where wealth inequality is at the highest levels it has ever been, college education costs are growing at ridiculous rates and our country is in two wars, we still see very little voice from a community that once acted as a voice for progress and change in America.
So, the next time an extreme opinion comes into your life, sit down and think about it for a bit. Think about whether the civil rights movement was considered extreme for its time, whether child labor laws were viewed as an extreme measure.
It’s time we reached a point where we admit that rarely has there been amazing progress in America on the shoulders of moderation. Sometimes we need something a bit more extreme.
Brian Fosdick is a senior JTC major with a minor in political science and enjoys when you send all of his hate mail/love confessions to firstname.lastname@example.org