Students involve themselves in political clubs

Mira LaNasa, Layout Editor

The Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton debate is far from dissipating, and the Young Democrats and Youth Republicans clubs are just as far from agreeing on every issue. However, despite political differences, they are much more alike than many would think.

When the Young Democrats and Youth Republican clubs were started late last year, the political sphere was fully introduced to our school community — our nation’s upcoming presidential election was bringing out the partisan in everyone.

The Young Democrats were founded by Corri Gardner. Presently, seniors Brian Jaap and Gardner are co-presidents, with Cat Clements and Maya Yokanovich, juniors and vice presidents.

The Youth Republicans were founded by four seniors. Now, the leading figures are two of the founders, seniors Alyssa Lammers and Ellie Smith, along with junior Joe Sanderson.

Originally, when the Young Democrats began, many people flocked to it. However, because politics were a rising subject, the Youth Republicans took start, providing a voice for conservatives as well. Seeing this is proof of how the upcoming election has both united our communities, and also divided them.

“It’s one of the most intense elections in terms of peoples’ opinions … We don’t see a lot of mutual agreeing on things. I think that’s making it hard,” Gardner said.

Despite rifts in political views, members of the clubs are finding friendship within the opposing group, as seen between the presidents of both clubs.

“One of my very good friends actually started the Young Democrats at our school. It’s really fun being friends because we get to challenge each other with questions and have friendly debates from time to time,” Smith said.

In person, both clubs are civil, for the most part, but social media is a different story. Members of both clubs can get hot-headed at times on those platforms which leads to the belief that the other parties club is ‘bad’ or ‘mean’. We try our best to encourage our members to see things from different perspectives and to think before they speak.”

— Ellie Smith

Aside from their friendships, they still have their defining factors of why they feel the way they do about politics. Both groups have different opinions on how to go about politics, their stances on differing issues, and what issues are the most important to them.

“Many members of the YD [Young Democrats] place social issues above economic issues … the YR [Youth Republicans] likes when the job gets done as simply and as easily as it can, we don’t fool around with feelings, we just say the facts,” Sanderson said, referencing what issue he believes is the biggest difference between the clubs.

Both the Young Democrats and Youth Republicans stated that they do not have the greatest diversity, but that what they do have is essential to their groups’ functionality and charisma.

“It isn’t super diverse, but a few months ago, and still now, most of the people supported Bernie [Sanders], but there were still maybe three or four…strong Hillary [Clinton] supporters … and even that difference kind of gave us lots of means of discussion and debate … as diverse as you can be in Stillwater,” Clements said.

With wildly differing opinions on presidential candidates, it seems difficult to imagine such a group of people being such good friends, especially given their opinions on each others’ parties’ candidates.

“My opinion of Hillary Clinton is that out of all the candidates she is by far the least likely to make a strong leader for our country. When I first found out that she was running, I was thrilled that a woman would be a possible candidate for presidency. As the race for office has progressed, she’s proven time and time again that she can not be trusted. I do not want a president who lies to the public and I especially don’t want one who changes her views just to get votes,” Smith stated.

And while the Youth Republicans have their opinions on Clinton, the Democrats have theirs on Trump.

“I think it’s a huge disappointment to this country and to a lot of people who can see how delusional [he is], and I just think that it’s really disappointing, shocking and scary.

We need people to be more informed than that. And the lack of compassion he has for people … if you’re trying to lead a country with millions of people, you need to be compassionate. You need to want to better their lives,” Gardner said.

Both groups have had their fair share of online disputes, which tend to get quite heated, but it hasn’t stood in their way of being appreciative of each other and their respective opinions.

“In person, both clubs are civil, for the most part, but social media is a different story. Members of both clubs can get hot-headed at times on those platforms which leads to the belief that the other parties club is ‘bad’ or ‘mean’. We try our best to encourage our members to see things from different perspectives and to think before they speak,” Smith explained.

The two groups have truly bonded over their love and passion for politics, and have created a welcoming, encouraging, and constructive community for one another, which is expressed in their debates. They discuss things such as the intentions of both Trump and Clinton, as well as large, outspoken issues on the political forefront.

“It’s [politics] our passion, because we like making the world a better place.  Doing whatever we can,” Clements said.