Mar 182012
Authors: Jefferson Freeman

We live in a culture of casual –– there is no situation it seems where we need to dress up anymore.
At church, only those born in the Golden Age wear their Sunday best as they scowl at their grandkids in shorts. At fancy restaurants, a pair of jeans suffices when slacks and ties used to be the norm. Even at job interviews we don’t wear suits because we don’t want to look too formal.

This casuality has seeped into all parts of our culture, from the way we dress to our politics. I like dressing up as much as I like to discuss serious matters, and I think that we as a culture need to get our class back.

It’s not just our dress habits, but rather the way our culture has evolved to become more of a mass-produced affair. Everything from a fancy dinner to how we decorate our house has been standardized. We would rather go to a chain restaurant for food we know is mediocre than a local place that could have some of the best food we’ve never tried. And this attitude has permeated throughout all aspects of our life.

Because we only require certain mediocrity, businesses have catered to that more and more and left us with nothing to really get excited about. We never need to change our attitude from blandness and reaching the bare minimum. Whenever I go to a new restaurant which isn’t a chain, most people I am with are more concerned about it being horrendous rather than the possibility it will be wonderful.

Mediocre isn’t elegant; it’s boring. And rather than being content with the bland, let’s take a plunge on something extraordinary. Whether it is extraordinarily bad or good, it still breaks us from the monotony of ordinary.

We need to stop fearing elegance –– writing full sentences free of acronyms, dressing up when it’s appropriate, and discussing serious subject matters doesn’t make us pompous. I am tired of watching my country slowly become the movie “Idiocracy.” Facts are viewed as pretentious, and letting emotions control your opinion is viewed as virtuous. This is completely backwards, and we need to start putting value back into people who know what they are talking about rather than those who talk the loudest.

We can’t elect leaders merely because they have a strong opinion; we need to elect leaders who are willing to be flexible and adjust their opinions to facts.

It’s obvious we have lost our class when even things like politics have devolved into a high school gossip club. From the Republican representative who yelled “you lie” to President Obama during his State of the Union address, to the Democrats who booed President Bush in 2005, we need to hold those who govern us to higher standards.

The old guard in politics still has a fair amount of class left, but we are slowly watching it crumble under the weight of strict politics of attitude. During the 2008 election, as McCain watched his campaign turn into an insult party toward Obama, he held his class as a woman told him his opponent was an Arab. He held his class and explained how Barack is a decent family man. This kind of class in the face of insurmountable stupidity is what’s really missing from American politics.

But politicians are a reflection of the society they are elected from, and our society has gotten to the point where politics is a subject which elicits hatred and bigotry toward those who disagree with our own vaguely held opinions. We need to be classy about our approach to disagreements and know that you can change your mind on an issue. The world is a changing place, and we need to start listening to those who are willing to change their mind rather than the ones screaming about inconsequential issues.

Being classy in politics as in the way we dress, eat and conduct ourselves doesn’t have to mean being pretentious, wearing a shirt and tie to an expensive restaurant. And bringing up your opinion on environmental issues doesn’t mean you are trying to be better than everyone else; it merely means that you have taken the time to set this experience apart from the blandness of your everyday life.

Jefferson Freeman is a senior economics major. His column appears every other Monday in the Collegian. He can be reached at

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