By: STEPHEN SALISBURY
Hello, readers, and welcome back! I hope you had a great winter break and are excited about the new semester.
For those of you first-year students, formerly known as freshmen, I hope you were able to gain a little confidence after successfully completing your first semester and are able to approach the second half of the year with a little more insight into how to conquer this “college” thing.
As I look ahead to the coming weeks, I see a very busy schedule, but one thing I’ve learned as a student is you just have to try to get through it one day at a time and eventually you find yourself at the end of what seemed like an arduous journey.
I guess that’s kind of how I feel when I look at the political landscape in which we find ourselves these days. It’s funny that I always try to wait until the last possible minute to write these articles in response to whatever craziness is coming out of the Oval Office only to have something even crazier happen between the time I write them and the time you get to see them.
The biggest controversy this past week, of course, is the idea that our president seems to think that certain countries are “shitholes” and that it would be nice if we could stop letting people from those countries into ours and encourage others from countries like Norway to come instead.
Of course, he’s denying he said it, but, to be completely honest, I no longer believe a word that comes out of that man’s mouth.
The saddest thing to me about this whole situation is that it’s not like the American people didn’t know this man was capable of this kind of vitriol, and yet they chose to elect him anyway. Honestly, I’ve never been more ashamed of our country.
Does this mean I don’t love this country and that I should find somewhere else to live as some might argue? I don’t think so. It is because I love this country that I am ashamed that we have such a vile leader.
Some might say, in defense of forty-five, “It’s the economy, stupid!” Really? Is that what we’ve become as a nation? We’re willing to overlook racist, sexist, bigoted leadership as long as our taxes get cut and the economy is thriving. That’s just gross.
I’m an economist. I graduated from this university with a degree in economics, and I am currently working on a graduate degree in applied mathematics. This kind of perspective just doesn’t add up to me.
In economics, there is a constant battle between those who argue that our job is to simply take a “positive” approach (stating things simply as they are). Whereas, there are others of us that believe we should be looking at things from a “normative” perspective (suggesting how things should be). I don’t believe that there is any one perfect way to lead, but surely demeaning people and looking for myriad ways to make others feel “less than” cannot be the state to which we aspire. That cannot be the vision that our founding fathers had for this country.
I’m currently reading “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow. This is the book that Lin Manuel-Miranda was reading when he was inspired to create the hit Broadway musical, “Hamilton.”
This man, who essentially created the architecture on which our economy has functioned for the past 230 years or so, came from one of those “shithole” regions of the world as considered by many at his time—the British West Indies. He grew up without a father figure in his life. It’s possible his mother may have been a prostitute. He lived much of his early life in abject poverty, and yet when our first commander-in-chief needed an aide-de-camp, which according to Google means, “a military officer acting as a confidential assistant to a senior officer,” Washington chose Hamilton. This poor, some called illegitimate, young immigrant eventually became the first Secretary of the Treasury. He created a national bank. He cemented America’s place in the world as an economic superpower and yet, had he lived today, our current President likely would have dismissed him as unworthy to participate in the building of our nation.
Believe it or not, we have another election coming up this fall. The time is now to start thinking about what kind of leadership you’d like to see in Washington. Do your research. Get involved. And to those among us who feel subjugated within the current climate, know there are those who hope to change the landscape. Don’t give up on our country even when it may feel like we’ve given up on you. We may have reached a moral low point, but as a wise man once said, “It’s always darkest just before the dawn!”