To all the incoming freshmen, transfer students and everyone else who has returned to the District after a long, hot summer: we could not have picked a more exciting time to come to Washington, where politics, culture and everything in between seem to collide.
Nearly two years ago, GW erupted into euphoria when President Barack Obama won his historic election. Change was in the air! A new era of Democratic and liberal dominance was supposedly upon us! But two years is a lifetime in politics, and now look where we are.
Obama’s approval ratings have dropped on nearly every issue to the point where a majority of the country opposes his policies on almost everything. Students, concerned about job opportunities and our own economic security after graduation, are more willing to look to the Republican Party for answers. Republicans have not been afraid to talk directly to voters about the state of the economy, and how we can get back on the right track and this method is paying off in the polls.
Students are always hungry for change, and embrace new and cutting edge ideas. However, it seems that nowadays, all the new ideas – crazy or not – seem to be coming from the GOP. For example – why are we content to allow portions of our paychecks to be siphoned off to Social Security, when we know we are never going to get that money back? The GOP has not been afraid to propose ideas of privatization, or reform to a defined-contribution system, in an attempt to preserve the program so that it can actually continue to work.
As GW students moved back to campus Saturday, they witnessed firsthand how America’s dormant libertarian streak has finally awoken from a long slumber. Yes, I am referring to the tea party. While it is home to many crazies, tea party rallies focus almost entirely on libertarian, anti-government economics in a time when the country faces a dire economic situation.
The Republican Party may be on the verge of a massive transition – for better or worse, all the political action this season is taking place on the right. Saturday saw tens of thousands from across the country gather on the National Mall with conservative stars Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, waving the famous “Don’t Tread On Me” flags. The anger is growing, and November 2010 is going to be judgment day for Obama and the Democrats who seem stuck in stasis.
However, regardless of where your political affiliations lie, from Bible-thumping evangelicals to Marxists, we can all agree that America is in the midst of change, and the destination is perhaps unknown. Americans of all stripes have finally woken up to the Pandora’s box of problems plaguing the country, and are more determined than ever to do something about it.
As students carrying the passed-down torch, we should be at the forefront of these debates. This year, in classrooms and residence halls across GW, I hope you encourage these debates about the future of America, and put your own ideas on the table. A new kind of change is here and we can be a part of it.
-The writer, a senior majoring in political communication, is a Hatchet columnist and a former member of the College Republicans executive board.
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