As midterm election results rolled in on Election Day earlier this month, I found myself bouncing between two watch parties hosted by GW’s top political student organizations. But due to my centrist leanings and refusal to blindly support a candidate because of their party, I felt alienated by both groups.
At the GW College Democrats watch party, I found my opinions of certain Democratic candidates’ policies unwelcome and when I was at the GW College Republicans watch party, I found myself bothered by the lack of recognition that a Democratic candidate might represent a region better than a Republican candidate. I was frustrated that both groups blindly supported candidates just because they were within a certain political party. The midterm elections are about electing someone who represents the area and the people within that area best, and should not be about which party controls each chamber.
As a moderate Republican who is a dues-paying member of the College Republicans, I am used to finding myself torn between two parties on a lot of issues. The fact that I had to choose between two main events on campus on Election Day showed the lack of moderate political student organizations on campus. If the two dominant political organizations on campus do not provide an environment for those in the center, there needs to be a place for those who don’t feel welcome in either group.
Rather than relying on the large partisan student organizations on campus to change, there needs to be a new student organization dedicated to those in the middle or with no party affiliation. Given that they are specifically partisan organizations, the College Republicans and College Democrats have no reason to alter their environment or change their organization for the small amount of people within their organizations who fall in the middle.
There is no avoiding the political division present in America right now, and that division is ever present on our highly political campus. A centrist or general political group could be the first step toward welcoming people with different ideas and beliefs rather than dividing based on ideology.
Those with strong political ideologies are less likely to listen to those who do not share their ideologies. Large organizations like the College Republicans and College Democrats provide students with echo chambers where they are not exposed to those with differing views, which leads to increased partisanship and decreased bipartisanship.
While GW currently has some bipartisan organizations like Table Talk GW, No Labels GW and the Bipartisan Women’s Supper Club, there is a lack of centrist organizations dedicated solely to those with no party affiliation or those who define themselves as moderates, rather than focusing on bipartisanship as a whole.
Given the polarization in American politics right now, the climate is not very conducive to those who do not want to be associated with either party. Because of this, many people in the middle end up choosing a side rather than being comfortable pulling ideas and beliefs from both sides of the aisle. Choosing sides contributes to political division between students and results in moderate students feeling as if their opinions do not matter. This leads to the disappearing center of American politics. The disappearing center is what gives rise to extremism and increases divides between Americans on politics.
While there is nothing wrong with being strongly one party or another, the division between people about politics is not going to be solved by people sticking to their beliefs and rejecting those of others. Moderates and centrists in politics are necessary in decreasing political polarization and increasing discussion between parties. Those in the middle are needed to bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans.
Moderates and centrists are crucial for the future of American politics to become less divided and more productive. A student organization dedicated to fostering discussion and acceptance of being nonpartisan is necessary to make those in the middle welcome in politics.
Hannah Thacker, a freshman majoring in political communications, is a Hatchet opinions writer.
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