Saumya Narechania: Attempting to avoid groupthink

Last week, Student Association Sen. Nick D’Addario wrote a piece on this very page describing the problem with SA elections – “slates and pseudo-political parties.” He then introduced legislation that aims to try and abandon the slate-driven politics that I, and the rest of the student body, have known for the past three years. I want to applaud D’Addario for his foresight and reform on the University level, but his concerns are spread wider and are rooted deeper in our culture as a whole. In fact, our school’s namesake, George Washington, warned about factionalism and the dangers of political groups more than two centuries ago. His pronouncement showed remarkable vision considering the problems we face currently.

Our country has suffered greatly in the past decade or so, and various polls over the years have shown the majority of the people in the United States think the country is headed in the wrong direction. That might even be more than the percentage of people who thought Heidi was headed in the wrong direction by cozying up to Spencer on “The Hills.” I attribute a great deal of the failures we have had recently in administrations and decades past to the two-party system. Recently the problems have become more pronounced, though, from firing attorneys who may be qualified but sit on the opposite side of the aisle to brokering the war in Iraq with little consideration of other viewpoints (this expands beyond just parties, but international dissenters as well). The fact of the matter is that groupthink has become a major problem in America and in our lives.

A leading Republican will announce a border fence is necessary and 270 Republicans, Lou Dobbs, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin and a good percentage of the American public will run with the idea. A student in class will, in a moment of spontaneity, raise a valid, interesting and poignant issue to a professor, and a week later, the professor will receive 20 papers on that one issue leaving behind 19 other valid, interesting and poignant details not discussed. Some critic will praise the story, art and acting in “Titanic” and then it will spiral to go on to win the best picture Oscar and Golden Globe.

Differing intelligent viewpoints and healthy debate lead to a healthy society. Polarizing ideologies that ignore one another lead to December 2007. For example, Markos Moulitsas will not even reach out to the centrists in the Democratic Party like the Democratic Leadership Council. Unity ’08, a group working to get a president and vice president from different parties on the ticket recognizes the problems that are entrenched in America but may not be tackling the problem correctly. I am not necessarily opposed to ideas like an Obama-Huckabee ticket or a McCain-Biden pairing. Instead of working within the system we have, a massive reorganization and the development of a third or fourth party could be more rewarding. I know it sounds farfetched but so did Tiki Barber becoming a credible television personality (I think the verdict may still be out on this one). There really is a thirst for change in the country right now, and a third party with an established, credible leader could quench it as mightily as Sprite quenches LeBron’s needs.

Luckily, D’Addario’s legislation, in the form of an amendment, attached itself to the election reform bill passed last week by the SA. While I know many people have many different problems with the bill I think we as a University need this provision, if only to send a small statement. D’Addario is trying to make bold changes at this level by doing away with slates that pick, if not like-minded people, then easily influenced friends to serve on the SA. By rejecting the provision we reject making bold changes across the country, at the national political level, in our classrooms and maybe even for a few misguided movie critics.

The writer, a senior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.