I have the unique opportunity to teach and mentor the next generation of influencers; and no, I’m not referring to social media. I am an adjunct professor of political science. I have the dual role of informing my students on what has happened in the past and asking them to think critically about their present, encouraging them to cast their votes for whomever they believe represents their interests.
I’m always surprised at the number of students who at the beginning of my classes would self-identify as apathetic towards both history and voting for their leaders. Even more heartbreaking is the number that come in being taught a very one-sided understanding of the American political system by their past teachers. Unfortunately, instances like these aren’t uncommon, like when a professor at Orange Coast College called Trump voters terrorists after the 2016 election. It could be one of the most dangerous things for our electorate.
So one quick political science lesson and one quick humanity lesson and I’ll call it a day. Prior to the founding and under the guise of Plubius, James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, wrote about the dangers that a “factions” could cause to a country. Madison defines factions essentially as groups of individuals that are diametrically opposed to one another – driven against the other by human nature.
Madison said there are only two ways that factions can be suppressed. The first is to stop humans from supporting factions, which he deems impossible. The second is to control the effects of factions – something Madison does by pitching a representative form of government.
The interesting thing is that Madison’s use of a representative government isn’t for the government to control the effects of factional tendencies, rather the system of government shifts the responsibility to the people of the United States – to my students.
Controlling the effects of factions is something that we need to all work on. The biggest way we do this is by loving our neighbors and seeing them with the dignity they deserve regardless of their political presuppositions.
When teachers, left or right, instill hatred or fear into their students, they have failed them. They fail because what they are doing is trying to stunt the creation and discovery of opposing ideas. They try to stop factions from forming – and in doing so leave their students ill prepared to deal with the effects of their own factional tendencies.
So, here is where it goes from political to personal. My number one job as a teacher is to instill respect among my students for each other and their perspectives. My challenge is that during this election cycle, we continue loving, tolerating and respecting those across the aisle from one another, regardless of whom we support.