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Where do young people come down on questions of faith, values, and public life? How do they relate their values to public policy issues including education, economic inequality, and the environment? These questions, critically important for the 2012 election, are at the center of a campus conversation being organized by the Berkley Center and Georgetown University. This blog features an ongoing conversation about these issues between students selected as Millennial Values Fellows through a national competition. You can read and comment on their blogs here.

To learn more about the project, visit the Campus Conversation on Values page.

OTHER POSTS

Millennials on Social Media and Politics

November 15, 2012

Millennials on Social Issues and Diversity

November 12, 2012

Hira Baig (Rice) on Why the Presidential Election Matters to Millennials

November 7, 2012

Millennials on Religion and Interfaith Work

November 7, 2012

Ryan Price (Drake) on E Pluribus Duo

November 6, 2012

Mohammad Usman (DePauw) on Unpredictable Millennials

November 5, 2012

Millennials on Affirmative Action Policy

November 3, 2012

Seth Warner (Vassar) on What Happens as the "God Gap" Widens

November 2, 2012

Josina De Raadt (Dordt) on How Social Media Is Like Wii Bowling

October 31, 2012

Zachary Yentzer (Arizona State) on the Next Greatest Generation

October 29, 2012

Brice Ezell (George Fox) on Post-Racial America? Race, Millennials, and the 2012 Election

October 25, 2012

Tyler Bishop (Vanderbilt) on a Future of Hashtags #whatitmeansforus

October 23, 2012

Brice Ezell (George Fox) on How the People Can Heal a “Divided,” Partisan Nation

October 4, 2012

Hira Baig (Rice) on Religion and American Democracy

October 4, 2012

Tyler Bishop (Vanderbilt) on How It’s All About Relatability: Voter Turnout

October 3, 2012

Josina De Raadt (Dordt) on Mistaking Politics for a Hollywood Blockbuster

October 2, 2012

Mohammad Usman (DePauw) on the Internet Solution

October 1, 2012


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Salt of the Earth
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Alyssa Roberts (Claremont McKenna) on American Values

Americanvalues

April 2, 2012

I consider myself a practical idealist – but, like most Americans, I’m not always so practical. Americans are united by a shared set of values, including family, opportunity, and independence. But our differing views of the “ideal” state of each of these values causes the fundamental left-right divide in our politics.
Take a basic value: family. Our culture is constantly evolving. Grocery stores shelve the latest frozen food innovations, cable news networks spit out headlines every thirty seconds, and leggings suddenly become acceptable replacements for pants. Family keeps us grounded in this ever-changing, confusing world. Three ingredients keep my family strong: Laughter, support, and love – plus a heavy dose of sarcasm. But that’s just my family – no two are the same. Yet some Americans think that their idea of an appropriate family arrangement should be the only family structure. What is ideal for one family, however, is not always ideal for another.

America was founded as the land of opportunity. Ideally, all Americans would have equal opportunities to achieve the societal standing charmingly known as the American Dream. But not all of us are born into schools districts with equal economic resources and raised by parents who value education. Some of us jumpstart our careers via family connections, while others can gain experience through unpaid internships. Opportunities are numerous, but the playing field is far from even. How – and whether – to compensate for uneven opportunity creates another division.

Independence is also one of our founding values, and, ideally, it would never be infringed upon. Free speech, free exercise of religion, and the right to privacy are all part of this concept. But society challenges a person’s right to independence if he interferes with another’s liberty. An independent person cannot take another’s property or injure someone else. But does my desire to protect my children from explicit content supersede your desire to broadcast pornography? Or does my choice not to purchase health insurance outweigh your interest in paying a lower premium? Independence is not entirely independent.

To overcome these political divisions, we must return to the values they arise from and practically weigh the costs and benefits of our different views of the ideal. But perhaps these debates are so heated because we are unable to overcome our attachment to our differing views of idealism. Maybe that’s why we have the Supreme Court: what’s ideal, according to the Founders, is what’s constitutional.