by Levi Roseman
In the past year, the country has heard accusations of “deplorable” voters and “nasty” women; citizens around the world have heard threats about everything from blowing up the White House to blowing up North Korea; and Twitter wars break out daily between—and within—each of the major political parties. In the midst of these politically-charged times in the United States and around the world, Dartmouth’s College Democrats and College Republicans are seeking to move past divisiveness and foster an environment of thoughtful and respectful political discourse on campus. So far, they’ve found that students want to be a part of a conversation that is far more cordial than those that are taking place in Washington.
“Turnout has actually been way up this year,” says College Democrats president, Jennifer West; “we are really excited that so many of the 21s are really interested in joining the club.”
On the other side of Dartmouth’s political spectrum, the College Republicans have also seen an increase in interest, which club president Abraham Herrera says is “because the organizational structure has radically been changed.” The club is seeking to hold more regular meetings and thereby encourage a stronger sense of community among its members, says Herrera.
The Democrats are also striving to remedy shortcomings of the club that have been present in prior years. West says that, in the past, club gear and events have posed a financial burden to some club members. “When I ran for Dems president, I knew that I wanted to make the club one-hundred percent accessible financially. So we’re combatting that issue,” says West.
Both leaders expressed a nuanced view of the national political climate and President Trump’s leadership. “President Trump’s agenda has been very much orthodox Republican ideas,” Herrera says, “so, we’ve definitely been in, sort of, his corner.” However, the club is not afraid to call President Trump out when “he does things that, I think at times have been insensitive,” adds Herrera.
The College Democrat’s approach is similarly multi-faceted. While the club is ready to stand against policies that its members believe to be harmful, such as the repeal and replace of Obamacare, College Democrats are also ready to support the President if and when he pursues action with which the club agrees. For instance, a great deal of discussion is taking place around an immigration reform bill—the DREAM Act—that would aid children who were displaced when President Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. “If the President were to come out in favor of a Clean DREAM Act,” says West, “we would certainly support that.”
Though the two clubs fall on opposites sides of the political aisle, both leaders are excited about implementing new ways to bridge the gap between conservative and liberal students on campus. The College Democrats and College Republicans are holding a voter registration drive in the near future in order to encourage more political involvement among students. Also, the two organizations have already co-sponsored two dinner discussions about terrorism and climate policy, respectively, and have two more dinners scheduled to occur in the fall term. West expounds upon the cooperative sentiment that the clubs are hoping to foster: “We’ll be looking into ways to establish a really positive community between the two organizations.”
For students interested in joining either club, Dartmouth College Democrats meet Mondays at 8:00 PM in Silsby Hall, room 113. Dartmouth College Republicans meet every other Tuesday night at 7:00 PM in the Rockefeller Center, room 002.