Quintin Thompson, a senior political science and philosophy major, asks students what they would like to see out of the newly formed Democracy and Citizenship club. The club is a non-partisan student organization that hopes to foster friendly political discourse. Patrick Calvert // DN
New non-partisan club hopes to create dialogue, compromise
A new club on campus is trying to challenge partisan politics by fostering discussion through a non-partisan viewpoint.
The Democracy and Citizenship club is a non-partisan political community that hopes to foster friendly political discourse, be involved in the community and support political and political scholarship.
Quintin Thompson, a senior political science and philosophy major, is the founder of the club and hopes it will help improve the country’s democracy.
Forty-five percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats see the opposing party as a threat to the nation’s well being, according to a poll done by the Pew Research Center in 2016.
“The importance of this is restoring [the U.S.] to a more healthy democracy," Thompson said. "It won't ever be perfect, but hopefully it will push us back to greater dialogue."
He believes the club will give political science students an opportunity to feel encouraged and accepted despite of the atmosphere of partisan politics.
Thompson based the club off of a book by Danielle Allen, a professor at Harvard University, called “Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship Since Brown V. Board of Education.”
The author claims that people in all classes and races are raised not to talk to strangers, which has led to an atmosphere of political alienation.
“We are taught not to talk to strangers, we become very individualized and when we do that we don’t necessarily understand people that are different from us,” Thompson said.
Thompson said he believes, based on Allen’s book, that people are likely to compromise for the sake of the democracy if they know the person behind the belief.
“Like, 'Obamacare' becomes different when you know people who are on 'Obamacare,'" he said. “Things are different when you have a understanding on a friendship level or an emotional level with someone else.”
Katharine Herbert, the academic adviser for political science department, sees the new club as a community builder for political science students and students outside of the topic of study.
“It’s a great way for them to practice skills that they learned, and kind of explore different areas, and learn to work together and make their common goals and meet those goals," Herbert said.
She is looking forward to the future of the club and hopes to see the group as a place for other perspectives to converse with one another.
Chad Cinsella, a professor of political science and the adviser for the Democracy and Citizenship club, said the club isn’t necessarily a response to the 2016 presidential election, but more of a response to a larger trend of polarization through history.
He also said it gives political science students an opportunity to get more involved.
“A lot of the clubs are maybe one sided so I think it's helpful to get those people and bring them together so you do have this bipartisanship," Cinsella said
He believes the club will give students a chance to foster discussion with the political science department and address “those needs and wants” they may have. He would also like to see the club bring in alumni and offer information on internships and jobs.
Cinsella also warned against looking at the political atmosphere in a partisan way because it can push a lot of people away from actually talking to each other and compromising.
“It’s part of [the club] that you can have that communication and that you can have that space where people can communicate, get along, hear different opinions and kind of all go towards a goal together," he said.