Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Hours after first reading Taylor Barnard’s Monday, Feb. 3 op-ed entitled “Responding to the State of the Union” I continue to be exceedingly troubled by its contents – starting with my surprise with the title’s implication that the ensuing articulation would be some sort of “response,” rather than unwavering praise of the President. Now that I think about it, I really shouldn’t be particularly surprised. In the year and a half I have spent on campus, all too often I have faced near monolithic support of the President, coupled with ignorant accusations leveled at all Republicans. This article only represents the tip of that iceberg in my mind, having been accused of misogyny by a classmate after voting for former Governor Mitt Romney in 2012.

I, of course, am aware of the many issues that manifest themselves throughout the GOP, be it through questionable stances on social issues or elsewhere. Paradoxically enough, in searching for an answer, or perhaps trying to cheer myself up, I watch a few episodes of Aaron Sorkin’s “The West Wing” (1999-2006) from time to time. He does not pull his punches in questioning Republicans and their beliefs. I find that his concerns over GOP policy are quite often grounded – namely Republican policies on abortion, gay marriage and other social issues. Yet Sorkin has succeeded where the Tufts community has collectively failed. No matter how hard the punch or how strongly Sorkin may feel about a given issue, he is always careful to recognize nuance, as well as its influence of policy, on both sides of the aisle.

Which brings me back to Mr. Barnard’s op-ed. He writes of “the antiquated vision of America offered by congressional Republicans,” asking readers to look forward and “hold [Republicans] accountable and give President Obama a congress he can work with.”

I know I will not likely convince Mr. Barnard of anything other than the opinions he holds, but in the spirit of nuance, allow me to provide an alternate perspective on President Obama’s record thus far. Domestically speaking, the President’s efforts to pass the Affordable Care Act have been disastrous, from the floor of Congress to the embarrassing – and eerily iSIS-esque – bug-ridden healthcare.gov website. In the foreign policy realm, President Obama has decided, in a rather short-sighted fashion, to scale down American troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Iraqi city of Fallujah, the battle for which saw the deaths of many U.S. Marines over 10 years ago, has fallen to insurgents and some measure of our progress in Iraq has been reversed. Sadly, the President’s failure extends not only to conventional warfare, but to unconventional warfare as well. The President continues to make little progress in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, as the ever-relevant principle of nuclear non-proliferation falls by the wayside.

I’ll leave it at that for now. I look forward to starting a new, more complex conversation at Tufts and on other American college campuses.




Zach Shapiro

Class of 2016