With the 2016 Presidential Elections less than a month away, the national political season has officially hit full swing. Although political participation can be found all throughout the nation, there are two organizations on this campus that are in many ways actively involving themselves in the political process.
The two groups are the College Democrats and the College Republicans. I sat down with the leaders of the organizations—Josh Anderson of the Republicans, and Will Winters of the Democrats—to discuss what they are doing at MC to increase their parties’ influence.
In an age fraught with political polarization not seen since the 1960s, it may come as a shock to many that Winters and Anderson, as well as their respective organizations, enjoy a notable degree of friendliness towards one another. The comradery has been evidenced by the rather playful competition that has accompanied the first two debate watch parties the groups have hosted together.
For the first two presidential debates and one vice presidential debate, the two leaders displayed a wonderful array of bipartisanship by throwing a joint party for each event. Both openly encouraged the entirety of the student body to come attend the parties.
For the last debate party, however, the two leaders decided to hold a small, playful competition to see which organization could draw the most attendees. For many who may not be familiar with the brotherhood often found among College Democrat and College Republican groups, the cordiality could be seen as somewhat odd, yet attractive.
In personal conversation, the affability extends further, “The College Democrats were very supportive of us starting this,” Anderson tells me—addressing the fact that the Republicans have only recently come back into existence after an extended absence. “Josh and I have worked well together,” Winters agreed.
For two groups that, at their core, disagree with each other on so many issues, they seem to agree on more than could be imagined. When the question of what plans their respective organizations have for the election, both leaders spoke of cooperation with each other, as well as individual plans they intend to undertake off campus.
Both groups, Anderson and Winters informed me, led voter registration and information drives as well as hosted the debate watch parties. Both have canvassed off campus in the past and plan to continue canvassing.
For the elder group, the College Democrats, Winters has personally done enough work in extending the influence and function of the state-wide organization to allow a range of options for his base here at MC. He cites campaigning for local Democratic Representative candidate Gloria Johnson, as well as fortnight trips to help support the Clinton campaign in North Carolina, as major initiatives and accomplishments for his group.
For the College Republicans, however, the group is still in the process of picking up the pieces. “Because of our lack of having not been here, not existing for several years now, we are just trying to bring awareness to what we are doing and that we are serious,” said Anderson.
It becomes increasingly clear as our conversations go on that neither organization leader suffers from tunnel vision. Both are clear in stating that the political process doesn’t end after the national election is over.
“We, at College Democrats, have 2 goals,” Winters tells me. “To educate students on the issues and what we believe, and help Democrats win, because, in our opinion, they are the best at helping people.” He makes it abundantly clear to me that these two objectives are not simply temporal beliefs that will dissipate after Nov. 8.
Anderson offers a similar sentiment, “Moving forward, I believe elections are just the beginning. I believe it is important to get involved in the issues too and not just the elections.”
The nation only has a short time before it decides on who it will elect to be its 45th president. As that time draws nearer and passes, however, you can count on the College Democrats and College Republicans to continue their efforts in the political realm.
For those interested getting involved with the College Democrats or Republicans both groups can be accessed by the MC emails of the groups respective leaders. Joshua Anderson can be reached at [email protected], and Will Winters can be reached at [email protected].