By Charly Frisk
A new club at CSB/SJU, United Politics, encourages political dialogue between students of all political beliefs.
In recent years, many headlines of newspaper articles, subjects of tweets and rants on Facebook discuss a “divided nation.” Thus, with massive amounts of the “fake news”, it easily may seem as though the United States has become so divided that its people can no longer hold a fruitful conversation without the discussion exploding into a screaming argument. Depending on the family, you may have experienced such fervent explosions throughout your Thanksgiving dinner.
The United Politics club seeks to provide students with an alternative to this “divided” atmosphere.
Junior Brendan Klein, co-founder of United Politics, offers a solution to a nation who is seemingly unable to communicate.
“I hoped that by creating United Politics, the club could address one of the main issues our society has which is face-to-face dialogue between people of different ideologies,” Klein said. “We were becoming too isolated in our own bubbles and insulated to hear thoughts in which we already agreed. This leads to more partisanship and less civility which we are now trying to combat through this club.”
The United Politics club’s mission has caught the attention of many students on campus with almost 100 members already signed up.
The United Politics club hopes to provide all members—regardless of party affiliation—with an opportunity to vocalize their thoughts and discuss among a politically diverse group of people.
“All of us, myself included, were retreating into similar-minded groups to discuss politics. This forms a ‘team’ mentality where the goal is to beat the other ‘team’. Our goal is to show that while we may have different ideas about how to ‘win the game.’ so to speak, we are all on the same team. We set out to do this by hosting forums for our peers to discuss these issues.”
To provide a platform for which this “team” communication can be founded, the organization hosts discussions periodically called “Dialogue Thursdays.” These meetings attempt to appeals to all majors and interests.
“We look for topics that tend to have chances of overlap within ideologies, like education, climate change, taxes, foreign policy and even, if you can believe it, abortion,” Klein said.
At the first meeting, around 30 to 40 students collected in the ground-floor classroom of a Simons classroom and discussed the First Amendment. Amongst the group was junior Sam Butterfass.
“There is no great productive place to discuss our views. It is not productive online, not productive at Thanksgiving, it seemed like having a productive place soley for the purpose of hashing out issues it seemed like something we need, needed and continue to need,” Butterfass said.
The past “Dialogue Thursdays” have had positive feedback, but for the United Politics club to meet its true potential, the club requires constant supply of new minds and diverse thoughts. A mixture of diverse thinkers prevents the ‘team against team’ mentality. This club is only as great as it’s members, according to Klein.
“The best way that we can ensure all voices are heard is by having people from all ideologies participate. We really do not control who comes or signs up. In order for this experiment to work we need people to be willing to share their thoughts and engage in democratic dialogue. That way we can all be more confident to discuss politics outside of a controlled setting,” Klein said.
While Butterfass has some critiques to better the nature of the club—remarking that conclusions and solutions should be considered when closing on an issue and believing that meetings should be held more frequently—he witnessed a success of the club as he sat in the classroom amongst his peers.
“There was a lot of people correcting each other and actually learning something,” Butterfass said. “I know that some people walked out of that room with a new perspective. I have hope for this club. It’s the least we can do, but there is a glimmer of hope.”