I Hate Mindless Partisanship

Well, we all say we do, but…

Grading papers today I across the following, “…’cabal, intrigue, and corruption,’ which, interestingly enough, are the three virtues embossed on the Clinton family coat of arms.” This, despite the instructions for the assignment including the admonition, “Do not write a partisan paper…I’m asking you to be an objective and fair analyst, “ot just another partisan bloviator.”

I get these types of things from conservatives occasionally, but I don’t get them from liberals. It’s not that liberals never think like that–in informal conversation I hear such things from them frequently enough–but that they seem to be able to discipline themselves better than Republicans when it comes to formal writing.

I once assigned students to analyze the ’04 election and explain the outcome, focusing either on why Bush won or why Kerry lost. On that one I also explicitly required a non-partisan approach, yet one student wrote about how terrible Kerry was, and focused on his flip-flopping, using as her sole example a comparison of something he’d said in the early ’70s to something he said during the campaign. She objected to her failing grade, insisting that I was just failing her for being conservative, and appealed the grade to the Academic Dean, who looked at the requirements for the paper and told her, “The professor’s right; you didn’t follow the directions.”

Maybe liberals do that, too. At Oregon I once had a student complain on evals that s/he was offended to have to read such conservative crap, in a class called “Problems in U.S. Politics,” in which my approach was to present both liberal and conservative views on particular problems. But even as narrow-minded as that was, the student avoided pure mindless partisanship in their paper (since none of the papers in that class went that route).

As I like to tell my students, the claim of liberal indoctrination in college is a myth, because there’s no way we can change their minds about their basic political views. But we can poke and prod and make them think a little bit harder about their ideology. But like religious faith, it’s amazing how many of them resist. They tend to claim its due to confidence, but it sure does have the outward appearance of fear.

About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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7 Responses to I Hate Mindless Partisanship

  1. Matty says:

    It’s a slow day so I’ll point out that on a brief search the Clinton family coat of arms (yes there is one), doesn’t seem to include any words except possibly the name Clinton, which is added below on some pictures.

    Yes I know, I will try and get out more.

  2. Lance says:

    I have heard that the Clinton family coat of arms is a hydra with a different meaning of the word “is” coming from the mouth of each head.

  3. James Hanley says:

    See, on a blog comment, that’s funny. Time and place, eh?

  4. Troublesome Frog says:

    Totally off topic, but I wanted to get a political scientist’s thoughts on this: North Korea is jamming South Korean GPS and causing trouble for civilian aircraft navigation. WTF is that all about?

    Is there still some sensible strategy here, or have they done such a good job of keeping their population hopelessly ignorant for so long that they’re running out of useful candidates for jobs like “running the military” and “formulating coherent foreign policy”? Typically in these types of situations, you have a poor and ignorant population controlled and manipulated by an in-the-know elite. Have we just run out of elites over there?

  5. Lance says:

    I’m no political scientist, but it doesn’t surprise me that North Korea is screwing with GPS signals in the south. It may be that they are trying to interfere with South Korean and US military systems that use GPS and it is just a by-product that it is affecting civilian GPS systems.

    Or it could just them being their usual dickish selves. They are like spoiled kids looking to cause trouble to get attention. It is a shame that the N.Korean people appear to be starved, deceived and terrified into submission. If there was ever a regime that deserved to end up with its collective heads on pikes it’s those bastards.

  6. James Hanley says:


    Unfortunately that’s a bit out of my area of expertise. As to “dickishness,” I always thought Kim Jong-Il was play-acting the crazy irrational leader, as a way to force concessions from the South and U.S. I don’t know if things are the same under his son or not. He’s young and inexperienced, so he could truly be doing stupid things, or this could be an action by a military that’s “counseling” him on what should be done.

    Lance could be right that it’s about disrupting the U.S. and ROK systems, although there’s still the question of what the purpose of that is. I’m inclined to think that the leaders in the DPRK continually dick with others just to keep getting attention, with the goal of continuing to get aid to keep them afloat.

    Sure, a better long-term strategy for the country as a whole is to stop screwing up their own economy, but is that really a better strategy for this particular set of leaders?

    I don’t really know, though. It’s an odd place.

  7. Troublesome Frog says:

    I guess I’m just used to the game being very straightforward: You start by doing something provocative but arguably within your rights. Arrest a tourist. Sell some weapons. Start a nuclear program. Then, safe in the knowledge that what you’re doing is not enough to start a full scale conflict, wait until the offers of goodies start rolling in.

    Intentionally jamming navigation signals is a much more dangerous game. It’s a big step away from the, “I’m not touching yooooooouuuuu…” provocations these nations usually use. It’s the type of thing that gets your transmission stations bombed.

    I’m just wondering if these guys have a plan. Are they just pushing as far as they can to see what provoke a retaliation, or do they actually think that the act itself will accomplish something? The only reason I can see for doing this is to hope for a military strike so you can play the aggrieved party (or strike back). Not good.

    You’re right that it is a weird place. I recommend watching The Vice Guide to North Korea for an interesting look from the perspective of a “tourist.”

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