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Slouching Toward the Right
Michael Yaeger • Poll Results: Yale loves the Queen, hates the Chairman • 1999

Polling the Yale student body is no easy task; ask students to define themselves and they will defy the very notion of a definition. When the YFP attempted a survey of students’ political views, an update of a previous survey conducted in 1986, some of our respondents explicitly denied the premise of a survey. One male spoke for them all: “sorry no labels for me.” 

Students rejected our rationalistic categorizations; one particularly defiant respondent felt that the option “M/F” was too confining for a proper description of the complexity of gender roles in late capitalism. Another circled both options. Always happy to oblige, we at the YFP vow to include an “H” option on our next survey. Further adding to the merry riot of gender-confusion was the respondent who identified himself as a male, but also a sapphist, boldly going where no man has gone before. 

Despite these obstacles, the poll was taken and we now submit the “facts” for your consideration. It should be noted that the survey is highly unscientific; forms were distributed at Commons and 61 people chose to respond. The sample is therefore self-selected and probably not representative of the Yale student body at large. 

Nevertheless, the data raise serious questions. Is the guy sitting next to you in section the “pacifist Nietzschean”? Is your freshman screw date the female who identifies herself as a misogynist and solipsist? Who are these strange centaurs of the political spectrum? 

Our respondents were a motley crew. For one thing, they are surprisingly conservative. In 1986, 54% said they were liberal or leftist, and only 17% were conservative or right-wing. In 1999, however, only 34% were liberal or left, 20% conservative or right; we have just over twice as many radical leftists as we did under Reagan, but there’s been a huge jump in hard right-wingers, from 1% to 10%. Almost a fourth expressed a desire to “Impeach the Pig.” Only a little more than a third chose to stand by the Porker-in-Chief, voting, “But he’s our pig,” and another third chose the delightfully ambiguous “Justice for Clinton.” The remaining students expressed their apathy—violently. As one Eli put it, “Who the f—k cares?” 

Less surprisingly, a greater proportion of women than men identify themselves with the left wing. Similarly, a higher percentage of women said they were Friends of Bill. Other unsurprising facts: Pat Buchanan was far and away the most despised national figure, more people respect the Pope than the President, and the Jesses (Jackson and Ventura) are riding high. In fact, a whopping 4.9% said they admired both Jesses. Watch out, America—the All-Jesse Ticket could be a force in 2000. (Sadly, Jesse Helms was much despised—so he’s out for Secretary of State.) 

In international politics, the Pope and Vaclav Havel were the most respected figures (though each also received votes for “most despised international figure”), while Castro and Serbian nationalists Milosevic and Karadzic were the most despised. 

As for “the most overrated figure in American history,” George Washington and John Kennedy vied for the top spot. Both Roosevelts made an appearance, and Thomas Jefferson got 6 votes, perhaps due to his liaison with his slave Sally Hemings. But a surprising number of Yalies seem to think our nation should not exist in the first place—Tory symps condemned Paul Revere, “all the Founders” and “the entire revolution.” One son of Eli even betrayed his alma mater by citing Nathan Hale. Yale also harbors three royalists—though their Anglophilia may be modified by the fact that one is also a self-proclaimed socialists and another a proud populist. 

Jesus, Ronald Reagan, Aristotle, Gutenberg, Martin Luther King, Elvis, and Frank Sinatra also earned varying degrees of enmity. One man declared himself against “Buchanan, Gramm, the whole cabal,” and stated that “the Republicans are amoral revolting beasts.” 

At the fringes, we find such answers as, “Political position: Save the world,” and “Most respected national figure: Angela Bassett.” One respondent both identified himself as a sophist, and named Mario Cuomo as his favorite political philosopher. “I learned it from you, Dad! I learned it from watching you.” 

We also turned up a male who respects Hillary Clinton and affirms both solipsism and sadomasochism. Perhaps he should intern on her Senate campaign. 

On the whole, the data are most promising. Things are looking up on this campus. After all, Chairman Mao has suffered a 200% decrease in popularity since 1986. Even the French are getting what they deserve. One especially strident student says it best in his response to the question, “Who do you most despise?”: 

“People who reap benefits and bitch/Holier than thou—like the Swiss and the French.” 

Preach on, citizen. 

—Michael Yaeger is a senior in Morse College 


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