Speakers discuss political climate

Ryan Doan/Staff Photographer

Ryan Doan/Staff Photographer

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GIC event addresses the harm of partisanship 

A hundred Saint Louis University students filed into the Busch Student Center Wool Ball Rooms to listen to a lively political discussion sponsored by the Great Issues Committee.

Ryan Doan/Staff Photographer

TV talk show host Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas of USA Today discussed their recent book, “Common Ground,” as well as current political issues. Issues discussed at the event included the election, taxes, unemployment, social security, the Middle East and the future of politics.

Beckel and Thomas started the night off with jokes and continued the good energy throughout their debate.

“I would like to congratulate all of those who didn’t show up tonight,” Thomas said before beginning his speech. The comment was met with laughter from the crowd.

Though the discussion was amicable, Thomas and Beckel did dispute on the topic of the election.

“People cannot relate to Mitt Romney,” Beckel said.  “The guy just doesn’t have it.”

Thomas went on to defend his Republican roots, saying that Obama has not kept his promises.

Although they did dispute many issues, one topic they did agree upon was how much hope they see for healing the partisan divide.

“I think it depends a lot on the individuals,” Thomas said. “This [presentation] is all to show how people from vastly different political parties can come together and form relationships.  We think it can happen if it starts at the grassroots and works its way up.”

Beckel received feedback from the audience during his speech when he started off by speculating at their political affiliation.

“Now, I know most of you here are Republicans,” he said, to which a member of the audience shouted back, “Not true!”

Beckel and Thomas discussed topics such as unemployment and taxes.

“I believe in equality among men. As Liberals, we care about the village that we call America,” Beckel said.

Both speakers criticized current political leaders throughout the duration of the event.

“Most politicians would rather have the issue than the solution…it’s a disgrace,” Thomas said.

Beckel and Thomas both mentioned their distaste for the recent commercial from the Obama administration against Paul Ryan’s view on social security. Thomas mentioned he thought term limits could be a solution to prevent corrupt politicians and Congress members.

The issue of the Middle East was also a popular topic throughout the debate. Beckel stated that he does not believe the attack on the U.S. Ambassador in Libya was a result of the recent controversial film made in the U.S. He did, however, mention that he thought the attack was conveniently made close to 9/11.

“What is going on right now [in the Middle East] is critical to the survival of the world,” Beckel said.

Thomas and Beckel also used personal stories throughout their speeches to break up the debate and emphasize points.

At the end of the debate, Thomas and Beckel concluded with the message that emphasized the need for togetherness, regardless of political party.

“The Taliban are on the other side,” Thomas said. “Let’s make them the enemy, not the other party or person who belongs to that party. Division encourages our enemies. United we stand together.”

Beckel agreed, concluding with his own advice.

“Find somebody you disagree with. Sit down. Listen to them and have them listen to you. We are together,” Beckel said.

When asked why GIC chose Beckel and Thomas to speak at SLU, Mitch Garrett, senior and GIC president, said, “We wanted something more…not the normal ‘get out and vote’ speech.”

Garrett said he was content with the event.

“The speech was very informative. [It was] a take on politics that we don’t see much.”