SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The next step in KOLR10’s We the People series is to talk to our nation’s youth, our future policy-makers.
KOLR10 met with young Republicans and Democrats to find out how they view the nation’s political polarization, and determine what their role is moving forward. They might not be sure how exactly they fit into the political puzzle yet. What matters is, they know they’re each an important piece.
“Your teenage years are really a point of transition, especially politically,” Sam Smith, the chairman of the Missouri high school Democrats, said.
Young Republican Tim Whorton thinks so too.
“I just hope I can be a voice for some kids who have questions about politics,” Whorton said.
The two Parkview students were, oddly enough, brought together by the polarization of politics. Smith, who runs the Democrat club at Parkview, just become passionate about his party within the last year.
“There was like, this kind of enthusiasm in the Trump campaign that we just didn’t really have,” Smith said. “And a lot of people, especially when you talk to them, say that it was a lack of youth getting involved and the excitement that that brings.”
But the Republicans couldn’t let them have all the fun.
“We saw that the Democrats made a club, and we decided that it’d be a good idea to make Republicans just to make some diversity in thought,” Whorton said.
He now runs the Republican club at Parkview. The two don’t agree on a lot of things, for instance, the brutal honesty of some modern politicians, like President Donald Trump.
“Most of it is unnecessary, you know, you look at certain arguments,” Smith said. “For instance, you know, whenever we were in Virginia, there’s this big deal about sanctuary cities, and how one guy was for them, and one guy was against them, but the state of Virgina doesn’t actually have any sanctuary cities.”
Meanwhile Whorton might like to hash it out.
“I think it’s time we finally let it all out there, and if somebody’s offended by that, sorry, but we gotta say what we need to say,” Whorton said.
Even the way they run their clubs is polar opposite. The Democrats meet at the Greene County party headquarters every other Wednesday. The Republicans hang out much more casually, sometimes shooting ideas of President Trump around at target practice.
And while neither student has his eye on a future candidacy right now, both are speaking like true diplomats, and realize they agree on more than they don’t.
“You can definitely tell that things are changing in the party, and I hope that it changes towards the better,” Smith said. “The only way you can that you can be sure, is to try and be as involved as you can, and lead that change.”
Whorton added, “I would vote Democrat if I saw somebody on the Democratic Party that held the same morals, held the same values, held the same, you know, views.”
Despite their willingness to work together, they’re staying on their own sides, even if they do meet somewhere in the middle.
“Right now the Republican Party is holding the morals and the values that I share,” Whorton said.
In the end, politics brought their differing opinions together, and they refuse to let it tear them apart.
“We just need to find a better way to unite, because right now we’re really separated. The left’s out protesting and the right’s not willing to sit down for it. We all just need to calm down and be a little bit more civil.”
Smith is similarly willing to invite anyone to his club meetings.
“They say, ‘I could never work for that guy because he’s different than us,’ but we are trying to work with any group we can, you know, Republican, Democrat, because the more people you have involved in politics, the better the conversation’s going to be.”