As the municipal election day gets closer, candidates and their political parties are entering into the last phase of their campaigns.On Monday and Tuesday, the Republican party of Goshen ran an advertisement in The Goshen News that asked “Do you think it’s a little spooky that most of the Democratic candidates are directly associated with Goshen College? Just askin’.” A list of Democratic candidates and their graduation dates or, in one case, children’s graduation dates, were included in the ad.
To support the message of the print ad, the Republican party posted a video on their YouTube channel that described how the Democratic candidates are homogeneous as a result of their relationship with Goshen College.
Kelly Huffman, a Republican city council candidate, claimed in the video that the Democratic candidates succumb to “group think” due to their affiliation with the college. After describing the Democratic candidates, she highlighted the diversity of the Republican candidates based on their group’s alma maters and degrees. The logic in the ad is that a college’s world-view is unique and an outsider can know the opinions of a politician and therefore know how they will act regarding certain policies if they know where the politician graduated from.
The point being raised is certainly one that voters should think about. It is important to know the perspectives of public officials. How will a city council, state government or federal government full of middle to upper-middle class white Christian business people create and handle issues and legislation?
Although the video specifies that “group think” is the problem, the ad brings up another issue: Goshen College’s effect on the community. The beginning of the ad brings up the national anthem and questions whether Goshen College has too much influence in the city and implies that this influence is negative.
To single out our college as a bad influence on Goshen seems strange. Citizens of Goshen should be happy when candidates, Democratic or Republican, come from an institution that has been in Goshen for 111 years. An education in Goshen means that candidates have lived in Goshen for a while and at different life-stages, giving them a more balanced perspective of the city.
Goshen grads received a liberal arts education which means they were challenged to think analytically about topics beyond their field of study, giving them a well-rounded education. Furthermore, Goshen grads have international experience through the Study-Service Term, a semester-long immersion into a different culture where participants confront new ways of life and thinking.
It’s true that when it comes to government body, diversity is preferable because it encourages discussion and challenges opinions. However, for the Republican party to target Goshen College as a negative influence in the city is unwise. Both Republicans and Democrats graduate from the college and choose to attend not because it produces zombies that think alike, but because the college enables critical thinking and global awareness.