This Tuesday, in the spirit of FDR’s (and PrezBo’s) famous “fireside chats,” President Spar sat around a table with a group of passionate young students to discuss this election cycle. The group was handpicked from applications to ensure discussion would be stimulating enough that Dspar wouldn’t be checking her twitter under the table halfway through. Bwog staff writer Isadora Nogueira received access to this usually press-free event on the condition that no direct quotes of Spar’s political opinions be publicly shared without approval; however, we can confirm that the loudest voice in the room was a Jeff Buckley ringtone belching “Hallelujah” (twice) from her handbag.
While initially dismayed by the lack of the cozy fire and hot cocoa I envisioned, the interesting opinions and experiences shared at President Spar’s Fireside Chat were genuinely worth losing a precious midterm season hour. After the students in attendance shared their names and where they would be voting, the discussion segued into the young women’s experiences with the election in their home states.
Students from swing states such as New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Arizona were given particular space to voice their perspectives. Spar led the conversation with somewhat politically neutral questions that I will paraphrase: “Does Hillary Clinton’s gender work to her advantage or disadvantage?” “Are Bernie Sanders fans now mainly sitting this election out or have they join her side?” “How important is it to have leaders like you in the role of presidency?” The general flow of the discussion was from the role of gender in Clinton’s campaign, to what Trump has done and said, to the role of the media in the election, and finally to predictions for when either come into presidency.
Although much of the conversation followed the same patterns that I see playing out on my newsfeed every day, there were a lot original thoughts discussed. On the topic of sexism, for example, one point I found particularly salient was a comparison between Elizabeth Warren, who is seen as a second generation feminist, and Clinton, who is seen as first generation despite the fact that they’re about the same age. Warren, although she is reviled by some, does not seem to face as much blatant sexism as Clinton. While the reasons for this weren’t expanded upon, I think this dichotomy is one which could reveal deeper reasons for the sexism that has riddled Clinton’s campaign. In general, the consensus was that Trump’s campaign brought the sexist and racist views of Americans out from the shadows, whereas they are usually only fed into subtly by mainstream Republican politicians.
It was then suggested that this current generation of women had, before the election, been less aware of the sexism that prevails in America, and now first generations can have somewhat of an ‘ I told you so’ moment. One student, with admirable honesty about how internalized sexism had made her question Clinton’s “nefarious” reasons for staying with Bill; her point made me question the validity of my own judgments of Clinton and whether these criticisms were based in reason or prejudice. She also brought up the fact that this election has made her hyper-aware of her own gender and the perception of her male counterparts. There is now more awareness of this entire world – the world of “locker room” talk – that women are shut off from.
While discussing Trump’s campaign, there was unanimous agreement that this election has been a “Trump” election and not a Clinton-Trump one. It seemed impossible, as well, to extricate criticism of Trump from the responsibility of the media for propping him up. The deterioration of journalism was a common theme. A question about whether the democratization of journalism has just led to clickbait and loss of quality news coverage was mentioned. The media, one attendee said, is now hand-wringing itself for fetishizing stars and building up their cults of personality, despite the characteristics of these people that we should not be celebrating.
In terms of predictions for the election, Spar told press that we could quote her on this: there will undoubtedly be “more write-in candidates in this election than any other” and that, “Mickey Mouse will do really well.” Moreover, the future of the congress came under discussion. Will the new congress be deeply divided? Or will it now focus on passing policy and more across the aisle thinking?
But there could be no negating that this election is unlike any other. Or, in the words of President Spar, “this is an election about which there will be doctoral dissertations done for at least the next 300 years.”
DSpar on the mic via Bwog Staff