If my only exposure to American politics was through the hyper-politicized society of New York City, and I assumed the rest of the nation was just like it, I would come to the conclusion that the country is a sort of pseudo-socialist state, where anyone slightly right of center, let alone Donald Trump, could never become president. However, that isn’t the reality we face as a nation. Pseudo-socialistic political culture represents the two coastal bubbles that liberal America lives in, but the big stickler is the near 3,000 miles and millions of people that separate the two, creating a multilayered, socioeconomic and cultural divide. The election of President Trump showed us that disconnect between the coastal regions and the heartland.
Let’s face the facts: Fordham University is in New York City and most of its students are from the coastal states: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and California — all bubble areas. In fact, according to the university’s enrollment office, 3 out of 4 students at Fordham are from these areas. When this is the case, Roger Stone, a Republican and Libertarian political consultant who influenced Trump’s policy and aided his victory, is going to be met with trepidation and anger when he comes onto campus.
Of the roughly 350-strong turnout that evening, about half were Stone proponents. Does this mean that every Stone fan and conservative in the crowd supported everything that Mr. Stone has said and done? Of course not, and that is not the point. Name calling and trashing ideological counterparts for the sake of silencing them will not get us anywhere; ad hominem attacks will only further polarize conversation between groups. Instead, we must get to know why they think the way they do. This is something that the Fordham community should understand: a visit from someone influential like Roger Stone was a perfect opportunity to learn how conservatives vote and think. Let us not forget that Fordham has a much higher number of conservatives than we may realize, but they aren’t eager to share their views as they face exclusion from everyone including our own university’s president.
In short, Roger Stone is a living piece of history that can help us understand how the rest of America views the Fordham community. Our community cannot be a diverse place for all if we do not tolerate the opinions of others on politics and other hot button issues. We cannot accept that discourse has become an echo chamber where one side claims moral superiority and labels the other side hateful. Society cannot progress without free and inclusive dialogue of all stripes. Roger Stone has seen the best and worst of American politics so let us at least listen to him, should we want to be a more understanding campus and nation.