PARR: Poli sci class was glimpse of liberal IU culture

May 17, 2014

As the end of the school year quickly approaches, it seems prudent to let you, the Hoosier taxpayer, know exactly what your hard-earned dollars are going to support.

As a student at Indiana University and a conservative, it can be easy to chuckle a little at the unique culture that permeates IU and Bloomington. Working for the Monroe County Republican Party over the last nine months has only been more eye-opening into how much of a difference 15 miles can make (Martinsville to Bloomington).

That is not all bad; after all, part of an education, particularly in college, is to enter the real world—to realize that people hold a plethora of opinions and perspectives. And IU certainly provides that.

To provide you a glimpse into what it is like to be a student at a world-renowned research university in 2014, consider one of my classes from this semester—a political science course, no less. This class was enriching, and as you will see, it also was rather slanted in its ideological tenor.

The course revolved around the question of the survival of democracy, with a specific emphasis on the United States. This happened to be a seminar, so there was lots of reading and discussion. Here are a couple of the ideas put forth by these writers:

Workers should own the companies for which they work. They are entitled to democracy in all walks of life, and in order to achieve this, government should “take over” businesses.

That came from Robert Dahl in “A Preface to Economic Democracy.”

Courtesy of “Winner-Take-All Politics” by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, Republicans are bad. Reagan was a terrible president. We need a bigger, stronger federal government to fix our many problems. Capitalism is the cause of society’s ills. Democrats should be blamed, too, but they really had to move right in order to have a chance at winning. FDR is the greatest president of all time.

This book is to Elizabeth Warren as “The Road to Serfdom” was to Reagan. Needless to say, it was not an easy read, though I would encourage it for all self-professed conservatives.

You will have to read Iris Marion Young’s “Polity and Group Difference: A Critique of the Ideal of Universal Citizenship,” to see whether, as someone in a class discussion mentioned, the book was affirmative action on steroids.

Equal before the law does not mean equal. Certain groups deserve special rights, above and beyond the rest of us. In fact, such groups should have a veto over any legislation that affects them.

Oh, yes, we did happen to read something by Fareed Zakaria, the CNN host. His book, “The Future of Freedom,” no doubt raised some eyebrows of several fellow students. He discussed things like the impact of Christianity on the development of modern-day liberal democracy (note the small “L”), the importance of capitalism in building a free society, and the importance of cultivating liberty.

To be clear, there is nowhere else I’d rather spend my college years. This class was useful if for nothing else than to challenge my viewpoints and examine those of my political opponents.

More important, it illustrates the need to continually renew, and meaningfully ensure, our commitment to freedom of inquiry within our universities.•


Parr, an Indiana University junior majoring in political science, is president of the IU College Republicans. Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.


Recent Articles by Riley Parr / Special to IBJ

Comments powered by Disqus