Pride, not Politics?

Sep 302007
Authors: Dr. John Straayer

Pardon me for sharing a few personal recollections, but College Republican Kevin Weston’s quip that the Collegian editorial flap is “not a political issue, it’s a pride issue” in the Coloradoan Sept. 25, brings back memories.

Prior to the 2004 Presidential election, the Vietnam swift boat chap who was rescued by John Kerry in the Mekong Delta spoke to my State and Local Politics class.

He was a Republican, a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy, now a national expert on orchids, and a supporter of Kerry.

He spoke to the class about orchids, L.A. and California public finances and, yes, he shared his near life-ending experience and said he supported Kerry for President.

The reaction? I was chastised by the College Republican chief for my partisanship, my chairman was contacted and, apparently, so were lawmakers in Denver. My misdeed was brought up in a joint House-Senate Education Committee hearing.

Over the past decade or two, these folks have also visited my classes, some several times: Senators Steve Johnson, Norma Anderson and Shawn Mitchell along with Reps Rob Witwer, Vickie Agler, Kevin Lundberg, Bob McCluskey and Cory Gardner.

They are all Republicans, as is former Representative Penn Pfiffner who preached to my students about the evils of taxes and big government. I’ve also had two Democrats – Peggy Reeves and Brian Jameson.

The reaction? One student appended a note to her student evaluation to the effect that I might try to invite Democrats, but there is no evidence that she solicited the support of university administrators or state lawmakers so as to correct my behavior.

For several decades, and more lately than in years past, I hear students and others use the F—word as often as I hear “Budweiser” or “Starbucks”. For better or worse, it’s just another word that seems to roll off the tongue with little thought these days. That may be unfortunate, but it’s real.

Is there a line-up on the plaza to gather signatures for a petition demanding that we all clean up our language?

Here are just a few suggestions.

First, Editor McSwane,, might want to purchase a thesaurus.

Second, College Republicans might want to join College Democrats and brainstorm about ways to help the medically uninsured, tackle global warming and reduce sex slavery and child labor worldwide.

Then, we might all want to have some warm milk and cookies, relax, and have a good night’s sleep.

Extra rest often helps with our studies and temperament.

Since this is all about pride, and inasmuch as university life is about liberating the mind from intellectual darkness and preconceptions, let us embark on a campus-wide crusade to read and re-read our United States and Colorado Constitutions and both celebrate and debate the blessings of unfettered liberty.

Perhaps in their respective and ongoing capacities as Collegian Editor and College Republican, Mr. McSwane and Mr. Weston will lead the way, employing their civil liberties to the max.

John Straayer is a professor of political science. His column appears occasionally in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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