Friday, June 22, 2012

A sophomore's C- paper somehow makes the big time

Victor Tolomeo is a sophomore at Georgetown University, and I really hope that he is not majoring in Political Science or any other discipline that requires actual analytical thought.

His is the latest in the recent flood of college student essayss obviously hyped up by the GOP or the Romney campaign to attack Libertarianism.

Not only is Mr. Tolomeo both unsure of the definition of Libertarianism and its distinction from Anarcho-Capitalism (sort of the same distinction lost on GOP critics about the difference between "managed capitalism" and "socialism"), he inverts chronology (for him Ron Paul creates Grover Norquist), and his examples (a game of chess and a family vacation) are both superficial and, well, . . . sophomoric.

The "money quote" comes in the denouement when Mr. Tolomeo announces his true colors after "defining" the difference between "New Liberalism" (which, after the fashion of college students, he makes up on the spot, and then proceeds to use as if it were a valid, accepted term) and Libertarianism:
This is a false dichotomy, of course, and the answer is a healthy dose of Conservatism, which was traditionally the philosophy that government should play a limited role in society, but, more importantly, should know what those limits are. 
The only mild surprise in this essay is that he doesn't manage to work in a quote from Edmund Burke on the difference between liberty and license.

As a professor, I'd give Mr. Tolomeo a C-.  His paper is stylistically well-written, flows well, and the paragraphs actually have topic sentences.  Unfortunately, he sets up three "straw man" examples rather than doing any real intellectual heavy lifting, misidentifies what Libertarianism actually is, commits at least three factual errors, and (as noted above) attempts to use his own invented terminology at par with standard Social and Political Science usage.

If this is the best that the Romney camp has in the way of college student advocates, it's no wonder that Libertarians are feeding them their lunch in the classroom.

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