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Party Clubs on the Presidency

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The month of November has phased in and out in a flurry, introducing one of the most controversial presidential elections in recent history and leaving Americans alternately elated and devastated in its aftermath. Now, more than a week after President-Elect Donald J. Trump delivered his acceptance speech and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton conceded to her opponent, Maggie Walker is positively vibrating with perspective- and arguments over what is absolute fact regarding each candidate and what is baseless conjecture are in continuous debate.

 

The political culture of Maggie Walker is overwhelmingly left-leaning; in fact, one might even say that Democrats and Republicans attempt to coincide in a “liberal bubble.” within the four walls of the school. Catherine Qian (` 18), an active member of the Young Democrats, admits that this contributed to the shock that she felt upon seeing the results of the election. “Initially I was in shock because I’m guilty of forgetting about the bubble I live in.” Qian said. “I went through all five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – all in those 24 hours.” This sentiment is shared by Kate Seltzer (` 17), a co-president of Young Dems, who was devastated to hear the results. “I went from beyond excited to celebrate the first woman president, who was by far the most qualified candidate for the job, to feeling angry and betrayed and scared for my friends and my country,” Seltzer said.

 

And although the Young Republicans possessed very different early reactions to the election results, they were still seized by shock. Joey Mistretta (` 19), who has been an extremely vocal supporter of Donald Trump and a member of Young Republicans, said “I was shocked. The media, polls, and general consensus all pointed to a Clinton victory, even a landslide. I wore my Trump shirt and “Make America Great Again” hat on the night of November 8th thinking it would be my last chance to wear them before The Donald’s campaign ended in an embarrassing loss.” But his shock soon melted into a realization of what this result could mean to him and to his party. “That Tuesday,” said Mistretta, “millions of Americans rejected corruption, career politics, big government political correctness, and globalism all by simply bubbling in a circle on a ballot.”

 

For many of the politically inclined students that attend Maggie Walker, the Trump and Clinton campaigns sparked discussion within the school. However, it remains contested whether the political atmosphere of Maggie Walker- with a student body in which the liberal majority seems to drastically outnumber a conservative minority- has influenced members of either party club throughout the election. Kiera Goddu (` 17), one of the few voting-age members of Young Democrats, does not believe that the political culture of Maggie Walker has affected her own opinion. “As an active member of Young Dems I talked about the election with my friends alot and in this race even my more conservative friends were willing to support or vote for Hillary, because Trump was just so outside of the realm of political normalcy,” she remarked. Parth Kotak (` 17), other co-president of Young Dems, concurred. “I tried to absorb critical reactions in forming my feeling: for example, Trump’s Access Hollywood comments mean more to my female peers because of their unique life experience. While I may be outraged at what he said, I can’t feel a different aspect of his comments—in those cases, I tried to synthesize other people’s reactions into my viewpoint.” Adam Blankenship (` 18), a Young Republican, makes a similar statement, saying, “ Obviously my opinions are unpopular among the students at Maggie Walker, but the opinions of others don’t affect mine.”

 

If students in Maggie Walker seem to be so unaffected by the political culture of the school- a culture that lends itself more strongly to a specific agenda with specific political values- does it pose a problem? Avery Gagne (` 17), the treasurer of the Young Democrats, said that “the main problem with our school is that there is no real opportunity for open political discourse. Nobody debates their politics with the other side, but instead makes little groups of like-minded individuals.” Qian suggests that “while it’s definitely possible to have thoughtful political discourse at Maggie Walker, I feel that it’s rare because we tend to only engage when the debate centers around issues that cause an emotional reaction.”

 

Perhaps this presumed lack of political discourse is a problem that can be fixed; it is possible that discourse may be generated by the outcome of the election. Said Zada Hall (` 17), a co-president of Young Republicans, “Honestly, this contentious election seems to have really deepened the political divides in our country and in our school. And yet I’m hopeful that, going forward, individuals from across party lines can learn to be more respectful towards one another and to engage in discussions as opposed to instantly condemning the other side.” Gagne, however, seems to be of a different opinion, stating “I don’t think anything will change when it comes to the interaction between conservatives and liberals at this school….Liberals make up most of the student body and they will resent a Trump administration, so the school will as a whole as well.” Kotak’s prognosis is that the results of the election may result in increased political involvement from Maggie Walker’s liberal community, seeing as most legislation passed and political actions observed may be against their common interest and belief.  Said Qian, in agreement, “I believe Maggie Walker’s students have always had a vested interest in politics and I only see the outcome of this election reinvigorating the enthusiasm we have. No doubt, the minority will remain the minority, and the majority will remain the majority.”

 

Ultimately, during the election of 2016, what made President-Elect Donald Trump attractive to some Young Republicans? Mistretta admires Trump’s economic policy of “sparking economic growth by bringing jobs back into the country.” Hall cites parts of Trump’s proposed agenda, saying, “I supported Donald Trump based on his promises to repeal and replace Obamacare, roll back taxes on the middle class, protect the 2nd Amendment, and appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court.” Samuel Thornton (` 18) stated that he admires Trump’s patriotism. “ I, too, have great pride in being an American and I love to see another patriotic American taking the office of President.” He says. Blankenship stated that he hopes to see Trump “bring a change to corrupt government in Washington.”

And what made Hillary Clinton shine for the Young Democrats, who continue to rise in support of the historic candidate? Said Seltzer, “Affordable education, gun control, women’s rights, and clean energy are all issues that resonate with me as a student and a person.” Kotak admires Clinton’s “cohesive agenda” including her plans for dealing with a projected 2018 recession, regulating Wall Street, fighting climate change, and promoting her progressive views on sexuality, feminism, and inclusiveness. Gagne claimed that he was drawn to Hillary first and foremost by her qualification for the job. And finally, Goddu said “Hillary Clinton was the moderate who won my heart. She had experience with law, advocacy, politics, and foreign affairs. I voted for her in the Virginia primary and believed in her measured and thoughtful leadership and thought that she had rightfully earned her place in the White House.”

 

Throughout the course of the election, it is no secret that Maggie Walker’s two large party clubs have maintained involvement in every capacity possible. Although a majority of their members are not of voting age, the Young Democrats and Young Republicans clubs have invested their time in countless sessions of phone banking, canvassing throughout the city and suburbs, attendance of rallies, and other means of support for the candidates that they believed to be most representative of their personal and political ideologies. Yet each club yearns for a sense of mutual respect from their opposition- and although the results of the election of 2016 have accentuated each club’s very fundamental differences, there is a definite hope for unity, harmony, and political understanding for Maggie Walker’s future.

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Party Clubs on the Presidency