Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

David Domke outlines opposing visions of America

Feelings of intense excitement and frustration are growing in all corners of the country as the 2012 election approaches and America watches Republican candidates desperately trying to gain voters’ favor.

Credit: Ethan Parrish

According to Professor and Chair of the University of Washington Department of Communications, David Domke, who lectured in Olin hall on Tuesday  Feb. 7, this year’s election will define the future vision of America for years to come and possibly restructure the American identity permanently in either Republican or Democratic party terms.

Domke’s lecture touched on three central themes:   the “public dread” of the upcoming election, the issue of American identity and the conflicting “visions of America” that are defining the 2012 election.

The lecture also focused on Domke’s perspective on the “spirit of America” and how it may change depending on which vision is accepted. Domke described President Obama’s vision of the nation as an inclusive community which works towards the betterment of all, regardless of race, sex or class.

In contrast, Domke argued that the Republican party’s conception of America places more value on self-improvement of the individual, a definition that will potentially create an exclusive American identity with a set of values that excludes minorities and divides gender, class and race.

Senior politics major Caroline Koehler commented on this aspect of Domke’s speech.

“I thought that the more theoretical piece about the two American identities was really interesting,” she said. “As our country’s demographics are changing, it’s really important that we foster a more inclusive America.”

According to Domke, the values that the nation is slowly moving towards accepting will be defined by the upcoming election. Domke drew a parallel to Ronald  Reagan’s election in 1980, when Reagan’s school of thought became the accepted mode of thinking in America.

Credit: Ethan Parrish

“I very much think that there is a lot on the line in this election,” Domke said. “If you support the ‘Obama vision’. . . then you want to give it momentum. . . Because four years in one of the worst economic times in our country’s history is a very difficult time to spool out his vision. So if you support it, it’s very important to give it momentum. If you oppose it, you want to stop it now; you want to stop it today.”

But despite this, Domke stressed that whichever candidate one supports, the most important thing individuals can do is become involved in the electoral process: whether it be attending caucuses or voting.

“I think there is a negative image of Republican candidates in liberal areas,” sophomore Chelsea Darlington said. “But [Professor Domke]. . . said that when he met [the Republican candidates] he realized that they were humans too. Like he said, when Rick Santorum looks angry, he’s actually just being serious.”

Koehler expanded on Domke’s message about being proactive in elections, no matter your political preference.

“I think what he wanted us to take [from this lecture] was that we needed to get out there. . . there has been such bad voter turn out in the recent decade,” she said.

As it turns out, this is exactly why many students attended the lecture.   Senior Arielle Paulson, the WEB Cultural Events Director, touched on why she thought students had come to hear Domke speak.

“I think that Whitman students are really interested in what’s going on around us, but we’re not always able to have the time to check in on what’s happening,” she said.

This is the first opportunity to participate in a presidential election for many Whitman students, and, as a result, students feel a need to be informed.

“This is the first chance that students my age have to vote in the presidential election, and I thought it would be important to gain an understanding of how campaigns work,” Darlington said.


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