The George Washington College Dems hosted the junior senator from Delaware, Chris Coons, to start their series on congressional conversations. Senator Coons was able to pack a first floor lecture hall in Elliot for his speech on the political divide in America. Throughout the speech he used the extended metaphor of thanksgiving to help describe what it’s like to reach across the aisle. He said there’s a tendency to forget the people in the middle of the table and that the people really interested in trying to bridge the gap between the left and the right should try and focus on listening more and talking less. He said it’s very difficult these days because many people don’t agree on the facts; he said the best way to overcome that is trying to agree on a set of values that you both share and move on from there. Senator Coons described growing up in a Republican household and eventually becoming a founding member of the College Republicans at his alma mater. Halfway through his time at university he switched from Republican to Democrat. He attributes that to his travels through Africa, namely Kenya, where he has continued to do work with the federal government. After his speech he took questions from the audience concerning the 2016 election and how to deal with people this holiday season.
He said he wasn’t sure that everywhere in America was safe in terms of election infrastructure and it’s very possible votes might be hacked someday and that the foreign influence on our election may be more severe than we even know. Senator Coons claims he has no interest in contesting the 2016 election, though he fears Democrats in the future won’t stand for more elections if they go down this way and that could tear at the fabric of our democracy, more than what’s already happening. He says he’s been to the elections in Delaware and knows they’re secure, but there are some regions in America that use all electronic balloting that are rife for tampering with. Near the end of the discussion section he said he has no cure for the political divide, but that the number one thing is to “not give up on your classmates”. That seemed to be the anchoring theme of his presentation, that the College Democrats needed to be a more inclusive party and to not question the motives of their political opposition, to assume that everyone loves America and they are doing what they think is best for the country. He ended by saying that, yes, even the Ted Cruz supporter down the hall is entitled to his political opinion and that you should hold conversations with them because you never know when a mind can be changed.