The general political climate of Seattle is no secret. The city is well known in and outside Washington for its liberal and left-leaning affectations. A recent example of Seattle’s political stance can be found in Mayor Ed Murray signing an executive order making a stand for Seattle to become a sanctuary city for immigrants and other marginalized people in the face of the new Trump administration, which heavily emphasized tough immigration policies in its campaign. Though it’s relatively easy to pin down the general political stance of a city, as you close in on smaller communities, it’s difficult to tell what the general consensus is.
One would be tempted to assume that the school mostly leans to the left, but the past election season has revealed that there are indeed a good number of students whose political affiliations are more in line with the right wing. On a Roosevelt hallway one can see a poster put up by The F-word, Roosevelt’s feminism club, and not two feet away, a poster advertising a RHS Republicans meeting. It’s clear that there are a broad spectrum of views here at Roosevelt. That broad spectrum of views is what inspired the creation of Political Discussion Club. A relatively new club, having been founded in the middle of the 2015-2016 school year, the club was created by Kylie Knowles, Michael Bahner, and Antonio Zacco. The club’s intention, as stated by Zacco, is to create an environment where all political positions could be expressed without judgement from peers.
“Our only rule is that members of the club must be respectful to one another”, says Zacco.
“Even though discussions about politics can get contentious sometimes, we believe that it’s important to express what we think and that the best way to make change is by having open and civil conversations.”
The Political Discussion Club has discussed quite a few topics over their past few meetings in the 2016-2017 school year, some broad, some more focused. Obviously the 2016 presidential election was a big talking point, as well as the Dakota access pipeline, the feminist movement, and the controversy that has surrounded the 2nd amendment and gun rights for the past couple of years. In Zacco’s opinion, the most extensive discussion topics have been the election and President Trump’s ensuing cabinet appointees. At their most recent meeting (1/13/17), they discussed Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes and the role of celebrities in politics.
One of the things Political Discussion Club prides itself on most is its acceptance and welcome of any political views. The members of the club “have some diversity in political views” according to Zacco. However, the club’s leaders do lament that there could be even more political diversity at their meetings.
“We do… have a majority of liberal views in our club”, says Kylie Knowles. “Although this is not surprising, living in Seattle, there are definitely more conservative thinkers, and we hope that they will come to our club. I firmly believe being challenged and questioning your own thoughts is essential”, she continues.
In politically divisive times like these, fostering a respectful political discussion on a school level may be more important than ever before.
photos by: Natalie Kauper