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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Corruption in the Party of the Right in the Yale Political Union

When I was a student at Yale, I was a member of the Party of the Right (POR) in the Yale Political Union (YPU). I was pretty much a libertarian back then, and the POR consisted of libertarians and Burkean traditionalists. John Kerry had been president of the YPU in 1968.  The Political Union consists of several “parties,” which are really little debating/drinking societies. The POR consisted of libertarians and Burkean traditionalists. I was a libertarian. I didn’t much like the guys in charge of the POR.  For one thing, the Burkeans dominated the positions, and they had their little club within the club though they were never man-enough to admit it. Also, the party owned a secret society, which is only open to men ostensibly because it had been a nineteenth-century men’s literary society before the POR took it over.  The trouble is that there are female members of the POR, and they are ineligible for membership in the party’s secret organization. I didn’t like that exclusion even though I am not a woman.  However, the unfairness wasn’t limited to women.  The only guys who were invited into the secret society were those who were in leadership positions of the POR. In the year that I joined the party, the chairman invited me to a Friday night party, which was being held in a room half way up Yale’s bell tower. He told me that the new members of the POR would be inducted into the secret society, so I should come.  So I canceled my other plans and attended. The truth was that he wanted all the party members to be at the party to serve as an audience for the two or three people in the party’s leadership who were actually being inducted. It is no fun being exclusivist if there are none of the excluded around to watch. In other words, the chairman lied to me.  I had changed my plans in order to go to the Friday night party, but it was the lying that really infuriated me when I discovered the actual purpose of the evening.  When I confronted the chairman, he (and his friends in the leadership) denied that he had told me that the new members would be inducted.  Most people who get pissed at the party leadership resign from the party in protest in order to make a point.  I think they overestimate the impact of their “act.”  I, on the other hand, did not resign; I simply ignored the party’s leaders on campus and did not attend any more POR functions.  I think that annoyed the “leaders” more than had I resigned. So even today, I’m a member of the POR, in spite of the fact that I am now very liberal on some issues. In hindsight, I wish I had joined the Progressive Party or the Independent Party while I was still a student, but I really was a libertarian then, and libertarians were in the POR.  The lesson I learned from the POR was how easily people in power can lie. That is a tradition that even the Burkeans can give up.