Speakers to address partisanship

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Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas are coming to Saint Louis University on Sept. 18, 2012 to speak to SLU students about the issues Americans face in the upcoming election.

The free event, titled “Common Ground: How To Stop The Partisan War That’s Destroying America,” is meant to be a dialogue concerning how the partisan divide in American politics is doing more damage than good to our country.

Each speaker holds very different views. Bob Beckel provides the liberal voice as a co-host on the television show “The Five” on Fox News Channel; Cal Thomas has been a syndicated conservative columnist since the ‘80s. Collectively, they attempt to get to the root of the issues we face as a people, and remove the partisan shade that prevents politicians and citizens from cooperating.

The speaking event is a continuation of their bi-weekly USA Today column called simply, “Common Ground.”

“We thought it was an interesting take on elections,” said Mitch Garrett, chair of the Great Issues Committee. “This is a more overall view on the whole election. It’s something that people don’t really talk about when they’re thinking of their candidates.”

According to Garrett, Beckel and Thomas will take turns talking about a specific problem from their standpoint, and then present a conclusion about how to bridge the gap between the ideological differences of either political party and work together to solve the issue.

Garrett believes the event will be quite different from the dialogue we hear in our daily lives.

“I think this is good for any college kid,” said Garrett. “It’s not something the media focuses on or people focus on.”

The event is not about having a debate about which side is correct. Rather, the focus is on having a conversation concerning how each side is trying to solve a common problem, and finding a middle place where we can actually make progress.

“They’ll make fun of certain policies but then say ‘it doesn’t matter, the root of the problem is such and such,’” said Garrett. “It’s kind of funny, but they poke fun at each other because they’re friends.”

Garrett thinks the message Thomas and Beckel present is relevant to all SLU students, despite the fact that both speakers are much older than most college students.

“Partisan politics really doesn’t have a specific age group,” Garrett said, “so I think it’s just as relevant as anyone else [who would speak]. They’re talking more about how they’re trying to break that gap between the two groups.”

The event will follow the common format of GIC speakers, with a 50-minute presentation by the speakers followed by a 30-minute question-and-answer session with the audience.

According to Garrett, there will be a voter registration table outside the event so that students who aren’t registered yet can get involved in this year’s election.

Doors to the event will open at 6:30 p.m. at the Wool Ballrooms in the Busch Student Center.