November 4, 2016

The Visions of Our Teachers

Alex Beigelman ‘18

No two people, as alike as they may be, will always agree on everything, especially in politics and this is certainly the case in the GOA Social Studies department.
Although all three current Social Studies teachers – Dr. Deutch, Mr. Stern and Mr. Ober – are on the political left, mostly associated with the Democratic Party, their views on politics and the upcoming presidential election differed significantly.
A new teacher at GOA, Dr. Haim Deutch looks for humanity, respect and integrity in a vote-worthy candidate and cares the most about the economy and foreign policy. Deutch said he wants to hear more discussion about the issues that matter, not so much about rhetoric.
Caring about human relations, Deutch longs for unity, mutual respect and shared values between all people and doesn’t support divisiveness and dishonesty from candidates, which is “a flaw in both of them.”
He went on to say how he wants a president who is experienced or can surround themselves with the experts on the issues. He defined a leader as “someone who can come up with their own ideas and understand everything behind the issues,” wanting to see more consistency but being understanding of a person’s evolution as they learn more and the issues change.
On the economy, Deutch thinks neither candidate is perfect, each representing a group of people: Trump for those in the upper and middle class while Clinton aims to help the poor. On the issue of foreign policy, Deutch explained that he finds Trump too ignorant to deal with complex negotiations, wanting to approach it like a business, which he said won’t work.
Deutch also expressed unhappiness towards the current government, saying that President Obama had many failures, specifically regarding education, Congress has been a failure and the Supreme Court has been mixed.
Mr. Stern, US History teacher and Batman enthusiast, has a generally more mainstream Democratic view, wanting a secular and experienced president. He also stressed his view that the Presidency doesn’t matter as much as we would like to think.
Stern’s overall idea was that the President is a figurehead and a decision-maker, but is not in total control of everything. He explained that on issues like the economy, Congress is more important.
He wants a President who is experienced in executive offices, is ligious in governing, and consistent and realistic in their policies. He jokingly stated that the ideal president would be able to cross party lines, but he said he is aware he might never see that.
Stern cares most, as a voter, about terrorism – domestic and foreign – and equality. According to him, Clinton is far stronger on those issues. He talked about how he wants to see progress made with regard to equality for women and transgendered people and his desire for greater gun control.
Stern views this election cycle as a lesser of two evils since he is unhappy with Trump’s rhetoric and Clinton’s “unwise” decisions in her past regarding the Iraq War and her e-mail server.
Lastly, Mr. Ober, a self-described near-Marxist, expressed some overlap with Stern but had a differing vision for politics. He talked about his desire for an intellectually engaged president.
He explained intellectual engagement as a desire to learn, flexibility with changing circumstances and openness to change. Ober said he would vote for any candidate depending only on their intellectual engagement and experience. He finds these qualities to be particularly important since nobody controls the future and the president must be able to adapt to changing situations, a concern also voiced by Stern.
He is understanding of the desire for an outsider or a businessman, but finds it foolish since running a business is vastly different from running a country.
Due to this view of the president, he doesn’t care as much about their platforms but more about new Supreme Court nominations under the next administration. However, unlike Stern, Ober doesn’t view this election as a “lesser of two evils” election since he doesn’t view Clinton as evil.
Ober is very unhappy with the current political system. He isn’t happy with the amount of money in politics and expressed resentment toward the media for being “the biggest failures in this election.”
He thinks that Trump might not be as much of a racist or bigot as the media portrays, but rather a narcissist and a populist. Additionally, Ober believes Clinton isn’t as corrupt as the media says, but admitted she does need to work on her transparency and self-advocacy.
Ober also rejects the idea of term limits for Congress.
“We have term limits, elections!” he said.
He supports the idea of a political class just finding that they need to become more transparent, fair and less influenced by money.
One of the only things that was common between all three of them was a feeling of anger or unhappiness with the current system and a desire for fair, transparent politics. None of them would have called Hillary Clinton the best option, all having some issues with her, but are happy with their decision to support her and confident in their choice.

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