Reality Check: No Conscience?

A Scrutiny of Dubious Commentary in the Post-Election Cowl

Nick Wallace ’14

Reading the commentary section from last week’s Cowl, it seemed to me that Providence College had found its Antichrist. The members of the section were charged with giving their thoughts regarding the outcome of the presidential election in one hundred words or less. The tone of the page in general was overwhelmingly hostile towards President Obama. This is not surprising given the conservative tendencies of the PC community, which was made even more evident by Mitt Romney’s triumphant PC straw poll victory over the incumbent (Romney received over 63 percent of the votes from PC students). However, while all are entitled to their opinions, the cynicism shown by some members of the commentary staff illustrates the gridlock and defiance that is preventing the American political system from progressing towards prosperity.

Firstly, it should be noted how little the President of the United States controls the economy. While the modern presidency has certainly expanded the individual powers of the chief executive, the American public tends to think the President has the power to do anything he desires. The fact is, however, that Congress makes the budget. The Federal Reserve is charged with manipulating inflation. The millions of members of the federal bureaucracy ultimately implement the laws passed by Congress. International actors such as other nations and multinational corporations are almost (if not fully) inseparably tied to the American economy. For all intents and purposes, it is fair to say that no single man or woman will ever cause the GDP of a nation to flourish or fumble; it is always is a multitude of factors.

With that being said, certain statements by the commentary writers were alarming. One affirms, “Obama won, but on the bright side he can never win again.” Another boldly predicts, “If you think change will come out of this election, think again. Unemployment will not decrease. The federal debt will not decrease.” It is not the content of the statements that disturbs me as much as the tone. Pessimism and bitterness cause the very gridlock we continue to see in Congress, in which neither Democrats nor Republicans are willing to compromise. How can we expect change and progress if nobody is willing to negotiate?

One reflection struck me as especially close-minded. The author declares, “Obama’s victory proclaims that most Americans who cast a ballot don’t vote with their consciences. Here’s to another four years of blatant disregard for the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty, presidential support for homosexual marriage, a warm relationship with Planned Parenthood, and adamant support of abortion and contraceptives.” While the comment is strictly religiously conservative, I wasn’t personally aware that anybody who didn’t follow canonical scripture word for word was “without a conscience.” This personal attack is once again a perfect example of refusal to accept cooperation as a viable option. A fundamental premise of both liberty and democracy is that everybody is entitled to his or her own beliefs, but this comment is closer to horrid hate speech than constructive criticism.

I do not mean to generalize the entire commentary staff as Obama hating, conservative, and unwilling to negotiate with the opposite side of the political spectrum. One writer was enthusiastic about Obama’s reelection, and another shared my viewpoint- “The President alone is not the sole figure who will help shape our future.”

Moreover, it is understandable why the PC community may be upset with President Obama. A strong majority of PC students come from white families from the upper-middle class who may have seen or might soon see an increase in taxes. Many PC students, as well as their parents, family members, and friends may have lost jobs, and the economy hasn’t recovered as quickly as anybody would like for it to.

But the reality is that this is the man who will be in the Oval Office for the next four years. An acceptance of this fact rather than willful disparagement of the President will be more beneficial for the country, which is in desperate need of compromise and cooperation.

The referenced commentary can be accessed through this link via The Cowl online

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