By Meaghan McFall Gorman
The Republican Presidential Candidates and the Syrian Crisis: A Millennial Perspective
All too often the millennial generation is not considered or taken for granted. This is understandable, seeing as that a vast majority of us, despite being avid re-tweeters of social issues or political trends, do not actually vote. However, this doesn’t mean that we lack opinions, thoughts, or ideas when it comes to the future of our nation and those directly tied to us. Quite the opposite, we seem to have an abundance of opinions which span many spectrums and ideologies.
As the current President of Eastern’s Conservative Libertarian Club, I see this political involvement every time our club hosts one of our “Wings over Politics” events. We pick topics ahead of time which are not only recent political events, but are significant in the sense that they go beyond their immediate results, and have long term effects that cannot quite yet be accurately hypothesized. The purpose of these events is to discuss them so that fellow students can not only better understand them, but gain confidence in their own ability to understand and spread awareness.
During the most recent ‘Wings over Politics’ event the topics included the Republican Presidential candidates, the Syrian Crisis, and inevitably the Paris Attacks which occurred on November 14th. While the mood was somber, it did not stop the group of nearly two dozen students, of mixed ideologies, years, and disciplines, from voicing their opinions and thoughts not only on the topics themselves, but on how they interplayed.
Everything in this world is connected, as our generation certainly knows through use of social media, and what older generations fail to recognize is how this ability to connect transcends electronic devices, and manifests itself in our capacity to relate subjects and interpret their effects on one another.
A Parisian article was reviewed at the beginning of our event, to provoke thought in the group, and it presented the interesting concept that the Paris Attacks could be a deciding factor in the US Presidential elections. The group as a whole made keen observations on how the ability of a Presidential candidate, regardless of political orientation, to appear strong and resolute, and able to defend the nation, would make an impression on voters. The Paris Attacks are therefore not to be underestimated in their ability to promote fear of not only of further attacks, but of the unknown in general.
That is where the Syrian Crisis comes into play. The number of refugees fleeing Syria is astronomical, and the number of nations agreeing to take them in after the attacks is minimal. Why? Because people are afraid of the unknown, they fear that which they cannot decisively combat. The genuine likelihood of an Islamic terrorist disguising themselves as a refugee, attempting to enter the US, getting past border security, establishing themselves, and then committing an act of terrorism, are extremely unlikely. However, as the general rule unfortunately goes, it only takes one to ruin it for the many.
Understandably, there were mixed feelings and opinions about border control, and while these differing opinions were not wrong, they demonstrated the varied levels of reactionary impulse in people, which is in itself a representation of the mixed reactions that the United States and Western world as a whole will experience.
There were some students unfamiliar with the origins of the Syrian Refugee Crisis, and to supplement explanations given by attending students, an explanatory video was played, which included the Assad regime, Hezbollah, the Kurdish ethnic resistance, the Syrian revolutionary group, and the subsequent rise of the ISIS militant Islam group. Also included were the relative involvements of not only the Obama administration, but also the Arab emirate states and Russia under the direction of Putin.
Students in the group were somewhat amazed by the complexity of the issue, but rather than feel overwhelmed by the conflicts’ intricacies, students were able to appreciate the multifaceted nature of the issue. The Syrian Refugee Crisis is not going to end any time soon, the numbers of refugees seeking asylum in Europe and the United States is only increasing as the months continue, despite many countries reducing their acceptance rates or naval presence in areas where refugees are drowning en route to a better life.
This sparked much debate in the group, because the issue was seen along lines of morality; to let people suffer and die as they attempt to find a better life, or close borders and tighten security measures in order to protect our own people? These questions are now quite prominent in the Presidential campaigns on both sides of the aisle, and now the issue has sufficiently been divided by party lines. However, it was posed by students that this issue is not one of red and blue, nor right and wrong, but rather an issue of not being able to fix the root of a problem: Syria. That is not to say that the country of Syria is the problem, but rather that the inherent conflict in Syria, fomented by the Assad regime and the struggling revolutionary forces (resultant of the Arab Spring movement), is what is causing this mass exodus and all problems thereafter.
Is there a simple answer? Of course not, but it is not up to us to find the right answer, for that is an abstract and unrealistically idealist outcome for this base and depressing situation. To be human is to err, but to be human is also to do what is within ones’ own power to make a conscious effort and difference in whatever way you can. Whether that is believing in a single Presidential candidate and voting for the policies they represent, or holding true that inalienable human rights should overrule any fear of an unknown, a responsible citizenry needs to take a personal stand. As the newest generation to enter the political arena, myself and fellow millennials are not afraid to voice our opinions. While many of us seem altruistic to a fault, we understand the seriousness of recent world events and are prepared to consider their long term effects since we are the generation that will have to face those repercussions, for better or for worse.