In last week’s “Common Ground” dialogue, Condoleezza Rice and Susan Rice disagreed on relations with Iran, but both said their parents instilled the need to be twice as good as everyone else in order to succeed. There was no comparison between the Common Ground event last fall, featuring Karl Rove and David Axelrod, and this one. The international affairs experts were not afraid to speak their minds, and that dynamic made their discussion interesting and engaging.Read More
This year’s election campaigns have only just started, but if you’re anything like most American voters, you can already rule out the few candidates whose positions are actually closest to yours. The reason? You just might be misled by a popular voting fallacy deeply entrenched in our political culture.Read More
Among the countless e-mails Hamilton students received last week, one in particular caused me to jump for joy. It told of the availability of a free ticket to “Common Ground featuring David Axelrod and Karl Rove, moderated by Susan Page.” However, my joy quickly turned to apprehension for this coming event when I shared my excitement with another student. The student commented in reply: “Karl Rove really is a terrible person, though”. I was struck by the gravity of this statement. I realized that the event could lead to campus-wide protests.
I remembered the events last year at the University of California-Berkeley as well as our fellow NESCAC school, Middlebury College. Last February, former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos was invited to speak at Berkeley. The campus did not respond well to the idea, and a protest resulted that according to a CNN report caused over $100,000 in damage. These protesters “tore down metal barriers, set fires near the campus bookstore and damaged the construction site of a new dorm.” In another case, people at Middlebury blocked Charles Murray, a libertarian and social scientist, from speaking on campus. As a result of another round of “protests,” Murray feared for his safety and a faculty member was seriously injured in an attempt to defend him.
So here we are, Hamilton. There’s no need to sugarcoat it: Our campus is strongly liberal, at least socially speaking. Yes, Karl Rove was a senior advisor to George W. Bush, a Republican. But this essay is not in defense of Mr. Rove’s views. I am not a Republican, and am not stating that I agree with the views of Mr. Rove. What I am trying to say, and warn about using the examples above, is that Mr. Rove has the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. The purpose of this event is to allow two of the most prominent minds on each side of our political spectrum to discuss political topics that are tearing our nation apart. It’s also to invite a community of intellectuals to listen, and observe what two giants in the political field have to say. You may not agree with Mr. Rove, and you hopefully won’t always agree with Mr. Axelrod, but hear them out.
Hamilton has a wonderful opportunity to establish a reputation as a left-leaning college that allows free thought and discussion, as opposed to schools like Cal and Middlebury. So I urge you, fellow Hamilton students: Hear them out. Let Wednesday, October 18, 2017 be an evening when Karl Rove and David Axelrod hold an epic debate in the field house. Do not let it be the opener to a New York Times article the next day about an unruly and violent protest.
Promising to return power to the people, Donald Trump ran, and was elected, on a platform that emphasized his commitment to keeping his campaign promises. After just one month in office, he has already addressed a number of issues raised during his campaign, although he still has a long way to go before he can be considered a presidential success.
Since Inauguration Day, the economy has experienced an upswing, as Trump promised it would. By the end of January, the more optimistic business climate for some employers resulting from Trump’s taking office had helped to create 227,000 jobs – 52,000 more than expected that month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also soared above 20,000 points for the first time ever. Its average daily closing has been on an upward trend, from around 18,300 points, since Election Day. The NASDAQ is also up significantly in the last month.
In addition, Trump has met and negotiated with executives from major corporations, such as Carrier and Boeing, about keeping operations in the United States. Though these companies will ultimately decide whether to keep operations in the U.S., or in some cases bring them back, based on their profit margins, it is worth noting that Trump is at least going beyond his predecessors by speaking with companies in his attempt to bolster the economy. If he succeeds in the long run, he will have proved he has the business intelligence that his supporters so proudly tout.
In the realm of social issues, Trump has not fared nearly as well. With the lowest approval rating of any new president to date (40 percent in the Gallup Poll), he faces constant opposition, as well as daily protests outside the White House. Of the several executive orders Trump has already signed, his opponents seem to have reacted most strongly to his travel ban on people from several Muslim nations, which was quickly halted by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Though Trump is writing a revised, or possibly an altogether new, executive order on travel from such countries, it is not likely that he will recover much support from opposition forces with it.
In reaction to his calls to defund Planned Parenthood and his stance on the environment, on LGBTQ+ rights, and so on, Trump also faced an enormous women’s march on Washington, with similar marches occurring simultaneously around the country.
Trump has also been locked in a battle of epic proportions with the mainstream media, while facing intense criticism from congressional Democrats and even some members of his own party. Republican Senator John McCain even commented that Trump’s threats to the press are early signs of dictatorship. Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, has apparently shamed the president (in private, to a senator) for his attack on federal appellate judges following the halting of the travel ban. Additionally, with the resignation of Michael Flynn and the frequent trouble surrounding Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway, President Trump has encountered obstacles in his own administration, which he probably did not expect.
Despite his low poll numbers, war with the media, and opposition on several fronts, however, Trump still has the ability to turn his presidency into something productive for the American people. He has already experienced a degree of economic success, and with plans to tackle tax cuts and health care reforms in the coming months, he is well on his way on some issues. Only time will tell whether he fulfills his campaign promises.
Graduates of Hamilton College boast a number of impressive accolades. Perhaps one of our most notable alumni, at least in recent years, is Mike Dubke, class of ’92, who has been tapped as President Trump’s new communications director. Dubke is poised to take over the position from Sean Spicer, who has been serving as both press secretary and communications director for the White House.
Dubke, a native of Hamburg, NY, graduated from Hamilton with a degree in government. While here, he was involved in the College Republicans, The Spectator, and WHCL, and played on the men’s rugby team. Ted Eismeier, a retired Hamilton government professor, says Dubke was “one of [his] favorite students.” Later, as an alumnus, he was “always very supportive” of Eismeier’s Semester in Washington groups.
After leaving the Hill, Dubke served as the executive director for the Ripon Society, a Republican public policy organization in Washington, and for the Ripon Educational Fund. Under his leadership, the Ripon Society re-emerged as a vigorous actor in national politics. Dubke also co-founded Americans for Job Security, a pro-business advocacy group, and served as its president from 1995 to 2008. Together with his co-founder, David Carney, who served as political director for President George H. W. Bush, Dubke grew the organization across 45 states.
Dubke’s career reached further heights when he founded Crossroads Media in 2001. Crossroads bills itself as “the premier Republican media services firm, specializing in advertising strategy and placement for political candidates, issue advocacy organizations and trade associations.” Notable clients include the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Rudy Giuliani, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, the New York Stock Exchange, Westinghouse, and Walmart, among many others. In addition to serving as a partner at Crossroads Media, Dubke co-founded the Black Rock Group, a strategic communications and public affairs firm based in Alexandria, VA.
Those who know Dubke suggest that he’ll work well opposite Sean Spicer, who is known for his combative attitude. “Mike is a relentlessly positive person, kind of a happy warrior,” said Brian Jones of Black Rock Group. “Mike is not interested in being a public face. He's interested in rolling up his sleeves, trying to figure out how to make sure the messages that the White House wants to get out are getting out through the right channels. Knowing Sean for a long time and having worked with Mike for quite a long time, I think they will complement each other. They have different skill sets.”
Although he is a Republican insider, Dubke’s appointment has generally met with messages of approval from the right. Having played an active role in politics since his college days, and armed with his extensive background in political communications, Dubke will, without a doubt, be a valuable member of the Trump team. As Trump continues to wage war with the media, he desperately needs a skilled captain like Dubke to guide his administration’s communications through the tumultuous waters.
When asked about his new appointment, Dubke told Enquiry: “I can say that I am excited and honored to be working in the White House. I'll be taking my Hamilton cane to the West Wing in case relations with the media get out of hand.” This Hamiltonian, for one, looks forward to seeing that cane in action.
There seems to be a sentiment among left-leaning students and faculty on our campus that harassing conservative students is not only acceptable, but actually should be done. These same students and faculty, however, refuse to acknowledge that political harassment and discrimination are taking place at Hamilton. Many of my peers who attended Kim Strassel’s lecture on January 25 were made uncomfortable by my introduction, especially my – as one student put it – “baldface lie” that conservatives are harassed for their views at Hamilton.
I most certainly was not lying. I was referring to real people and real events that occurred on our campus. As a public face of conservatism at Hamilton, perhaps it’s time I share my own thoughts and experiences with the community.
At the beginning of the fall semester, the harassment went as far as trying to suppress my – and the other Enquiry writers’ – free speech by ripping up or stealing copies of our publication. It doesn’t bother me at all if people don’t agree with what we write , but destroying our work and property in an attempt to suppress our free speech is disgusting. Though we often don’t agree with the ideas and sentiments expressed in other campus publications, we would never stoop to vandalize them.
Shortly thereafter, I began receiving anonymous notes in my campus mailbox demanding that I stop publishing “offensive and inappropriate” pieces. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Nearly all of our previous editors have received similar – and in some cases far more threatening – messages just because they are conservative or libertarian and have published various pieces reflecting such views. Enquiry accepts all article submissions as long as they are well written and well constructed. If you don’t like what we publish, send us something yourself.
I thought this was the worst my experiences were going to get. I was able to shake off the messages and our staff, though deeply bothered by such reprehensible behavior, continued to publish. But nothing could prepare us for what would occur leading up to, and following, Election Day.
In the days before November 8, my fellow Republicans and I were met with a barrage of animosity. Though many of us made it perfectly clear that Donald Trump was not our candidate of choice, professors, classmates, teammates, and even friends still singled us out for our continued support of the Republican Party.
In what world is it OK to harass someone for doing his or her civic duty? For voting for the candidate that we believed would best represent our views, our interests, and our country? Here’s a news flash for some of you: some of us even voted for Hillary Clinton. But you wouldn’t have a clue about that, because you just assumed we’re all racist, homophobic Trump supporters.
Even if you think that destroying a publication in the name of sensitivity, sending threatening messages, or putting people down on account of their political leanings doesn’t count as harassment, you cannot deny that the physical and verbal intimidation I experienced on Election Day does.
On November 8, a number of instances occurred in which I was called a racist, bigot, and homophobe (which, for the record, could not be further from the truth). Once on that day, a male Hamilton student followed me – shouting insults – all the way along Martin’s Way. Isn’t this exactly the same behavior that the left is trying to protect marginalized communities from? And by the way, conservatives are definitely a marginalized group on this campus.
Then, just when I thought things had finally calmed down, Inauguration Day rolled around and Republicans were once again the objects of torment by “liberals.” I even received a particularly unprofessional, if not malicious, email from one Professor Katharine Kuharic in the Art Department – whom I have never met– in response to a message I sent notifying the Hamilton community about a public invitation to watch the inauguration at the AHI. Though my message contained no political opinion or indication that the event was meant to celebrate Trump’s inauguration, Professor Kuharic deemed it appropriate to forward me an all-faculty email concerning the Women’s March, appending the message: “you may want to discuss as the US inaugurates an illegitimate Russian puppet intent on destroying the constitutional rights to free speech, press, religious practice and birthright citizenship.”
Worst of all, our college’s administration did next to nothing when asked to address the political harassment on campus. I did not hear a single word from anyone other than the campus investigator who took my deposition on Election Day, and though I spoke with President Wippman after the Inauguration Day incident, it’s clear to me that the administration would rather downplay any incidents than address them head-on. Imagine that, instead of me, all these things had happened to a student of color, or a student who identifies as being LGBTQ+. There would be a bias incident report and group counseling available to the entire student body.
I am certainly not the only conservative student who has experienced harassment on this campus. Others have been shamed out of classes, or ridiculed by professors and students alike. Some seem to have had their grades lowered because of their political leanings. How can the administration continue to deny that conservatives are made to feel ridiculed and excluded on campus? Or, at the very least, how can they deny that conservatives are treated worse than their peers?