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The Online Trail of Political Affiliations

October 3, 2009

by Nirant Gupta
The Online Trail of Political Affiliations

Jonathan Hirsch, CMC '12, recently wrote for The Compass (the blog component of the Claremont Port Side) about Freedom of Internet Speech.   To summarize, Jonathan worries about writing anything remotely contentious:

If the recent controversy over Bob McDonnell’s senior thesis is any indication, public figures will be subject to increasingly thorough vetting of their academic careers and papers in the future and everything we write, from Facebook notes to essays, will be fair game.

We've heard cautionary tales of College students not getting jobs due to idiotic Facebook pictures.  But this has a simple solution - remove the pictures.  Removing does no harm and keeping offers no help.

But in raising controversial issues and voicing opinions, there is a harm associated with timidity- the campus environment and conversation is not as engaging.  Say what you will about Charles Johnson, CMC '11, but at least he has the balls to write what he thinks and the campus discussion, by and large, is better for it.

And so I've been thinking whether or not to officially brand myself as a "Democrat."  Yes, I'm politically left of center but not by much (I've argued at CAP conferences in favor of school vouchers and against EFCA...).  While I run the blog for the Port Side, with the exception of Jonathan I'm easily the most conservative student on staff.  And so calling myself a Democrat?  That seems sketchy.

The advantages to not being branded are obvious - you seem to not have partisan entanglements and appear to come from a place of "rationality" and "moderation."   In future job pursuits I wouldn't be disqualified for my political beliefs.  Though one of my Facebook networks is "Obama for America," I know enough moderates and even Republicans who worked on the campaign and voted for the man that I'm okay with it.  But recently I was appointed Platform Director for the California Young Democrats.

Why did I accept?  Because in the future I'd like to work in Government, and if I have to pick a team I pick not-Republican.  That leaves me with the Dems.  And so I've been sitting on my new email address,, for some time.  If I join the Facebook network, I'm a Democrat.  Anyone searching my name will see that.

But maybe the path of least association isn't the best path.  So I'll be a Democrat - does that mean I can't look rationally at an issue?  Does that mean I can't be measured and moderate?  I would hope not.

So for those interested in potentially blogging, either for the Port Side or the Claremont Conservative, and for those who want to write controversial opinions but who are afraid of the google-search - sack up.  Down the line it probably won't hurt to have an opinion so long as you can rationally defend it.  And if times change and public opinion changes, hopefully your employer will give you a chance to explain your thinking.  If not, he's probably a douche and you probably don't want to work for him anyway.  In the end, there are worse things to be disqualified for than having an opinion (and even when your opinion is unpopular, you can still raise $200,000 + in cash-on-hand overnight).

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