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‘Times’ Columnist Speaks On Election

For The Heights

Published: Sunday, December 4, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

This past Thursday, Dec. 1, the Boston College College Republicans welcomed Ross Douthat, the youngest columnist ever hired by The New York Times, to give a presentation on the upcoming 2012 election and its implication regarding American government up until 2050.

Douthat began his rise as a prominent journalist through his senior editor position at The Atlantic, an editorial magazine that focuses on politics, economics, and foreign policy. He has gained notoriety as the token conservative voice in the op-ed section of The New York Times. His most recent achievement is his new book, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics, due to release in April 2012.

Douthat provided a new perspective in regard to the problems facing America with the upcoming election. He noted that his concerns lie in "the deep challenge arising from the crisis in our social fabric," rather than the specific policy battles between liberals and conservatives over issues like the financial crisis, Medicare, and the welfare state.

Although Douthat himself admitted that this was a pessimistic view of American society, many of the audience members found this atypical view of American politics refreshing compared to the traditional view of politics pitting Republicans against Democrats in an ongoing battle.

In terms of the lurking 2012 election, however, with the more immediate financial crisis, Republican candidates for the presidency have been able to ignore the more fundamental problems with American society, and instead center their campaigns around "talk of bold transitional change but avoid speaking a lot of specific policies," making it "possible to run for office with evasive policies."

Douthat argued that while this next election may not bring about the most drastic changes of American political policies, it is the following four decades that will mark a dynamic shift.

Douthat said that "policies can't toggle between conservative tax rates and liberal programs for that much longer, unless we want to end up like Europe today," with countries like Greece facing daunting economic crises.

The most overwhelming difficulty for Douthat, however, when looking at the future of America was the social breakdown that is occurring. Douthat commented on the continued family breakdown, difficulty with assimilating low-income workers, excess in obesity, lagging rates of social mobility, and declining rate of social gatherings as the most pressing problems in American society.

Douthat said that these problems "don't have political solutions, but rather more spiritual and theological ones with a need to rebuild our individual communities." He said that the government cannot hire us an extra friend to combat the lack of social interaction, but it can redesign our education system and remove barriers to upward mobility, "reforming government with an eye toward equality and social mobility."

However, Douthat, made sure to end on a more reassuring note in terms of the state of America. He said that given the option, "there would be no other country, aside from the United States of America, that you would want to be in during the 21st century," and said that "no one has ever made money betting against the U.S." Compared to countries like China, which is having extreme difficulty with its growing elderly populations, and lacks the youth to support them due to the country's one-child policies, our social security debates take on a different light.

Douthat provided a new insight into the world of politics through his animated and dynamic talk, leaving attendees with a new sense of the broader and more fundamental problems that American politicians should truly be addressing.

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