College Corner: Bringing the political conflict home

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Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Tomorrow’s election and the natural tendencies of Swarthmore students have led to a lot of friendly political banter on campus. When banter turns to debate and debate turns to frustration, most Swatties can return to their dorm room for some peace and quiet. Not so for Sam Asarnow ’08 and Mikio Akagi ’08. The constant debating of these two dedicated souls is rapidly becoming a Willets legend. This reporter sat down with the passionate young men in an effort to determine just why two roommates would talk so much about politics.

Daily Gazette: How would you describe your own political views?
Sam Asarnow: Very very liberal. I believe in big government and my views border on socialist.
Mikio Akagi: I’m a libertarian. I believe in small government…very small government.

DG: How would you describe your roommate’s political views?
Sam: Insane. Libertarians are harmful to the world as a whole. And…
Mikio: Misguided. I’m misguided.
Sam: Yeah, that.
Mikio: Sam, do you want me to describe your radical views or your practical views?
Sam: Practical
Mikio: His views on economics show that he hasn’t taken any economics courses. Then again, he’d probably still believe the same thing even if he had taken economics courses.

DG: How often do you argue about politics and philosophy?
Mikio: Never after 1:00 in the morning. Notice the first rule. (“Willets N015 Rule #1” is posted on the mini-fridge).
Sam: Otherwise…every waking moment.
Mikio: Yeah, basically all the time. Unless we’re talking about music, how much homework we have, or how small the rooms in Willets basement are.

DG: What kinds of issues do you discuss?
Sam: Mostly economic issues and the general role of government. Mikio thinks that if you leave markets alone, good things will happen.
Mikio: Most of the time, good things will happen.
Sam: Either way, he’s wrong.

DG: What’s this other piece of paper on your refrigerator?
Mikio: Sam’s greatest fascination. It’s a chart on what role people think the government should play. There are two axes: one measures how much the government should be involved in the economic sphere and the other measures involvement in social life. Are you on here?
DG: Yes. (“Andrew Q.” is marked far left of the origin and on the x-axis, denoting economic ambivalence and a strong belief in civil liberties.” It looks like most people are in the upper left.
Mikio: Yes, that’s the “low social involvement, high economic involvement” section.
DG: The modern American liberal.
Mikio: Yes. There are only three libertarians and two of them don’t go to Swarthmore.
Sam: I’m in the Communist/Fascist/Populist section with Hitler and Stalin.

DG: I noticed the Badnarik poster outside the room with the devil ears drawn onto it…
Sam: Yeah, you can probably figure that one out.
DG: I think I can.
Mikio: I posted some libertarian propaganda on the door one day and came back later that night to find that somebody had posted an angry response poster next to it. I came back to my room and told Sam how somebody had posted an angry response to my poster.
Sam: And I had put up the other poster. But it wasn’t like we were mad at each other.

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