The current political climate has made honest discussion a precarious activity. The country is divided more than ever along political lines. A Pew Research Center study found that the political divide reached record levels during Obama’s presidency, and the recent election of Donald Trump has made matters worse. In this bleak reality, it seems unlikely that the two sides will ever come to terms with each other.
College campuses should be focal points for reaching across political and cultural divides.
An individual taking a productive step forward is Steven Crowder from the YouTube show “Louder with Crowder.” Political commentator, comedian and YouTube personality, Steven Crowder came to UTD for a new segment of his show called “Change My Mind.”
In this new series, Crowder ventures out to a public area and discusses political topics with people who are interested in engaging in informal debate. He starts off by stating his position and then asks people to change his mind on that particular issue.
Crowder has made a name for himself by providing commentary on a wide range of political and cultural issues. In addition to commentary, he also pokes fun at mainstream opinions and figures. Humorous and controversial, Crowder approaches issues with an open mind, and is more than willing to have debates on his show with guests that disagree with him. In the video that was published on Oct. 21, Crowder came to UTD to address the Second Amendment and calls upon students to change his pro-gun stance. This is a good topic to begin with because the American public is divided overall on gun-related issues according to a Pew study.
Crowder sets up a table with a sign that states his intention, and welcomes any passing student to have an honest conversation with him. He sits casually by the Plinth and waits for people to notice his sign. Students come up to him and present their viewpoints, and Crowder exchanges his. The discussion is civil and respectful, with both speakers being able to present their arguments without any insults. A line forms next to the table with students eagerly waiting to talk to Crowder and trade ideas.
However, the debate is cut short by the appearance of the UTD Police. The video ends with the police asking for Crowder’s ID, and presumably, the show is shut down.
The main reason he was shut down seems to be because he was not affiliated with a registered group on campus. Students can petition the appropriate political groups on campus to have him back and watch his videos and use him as an example to initiate debates of their own.
Sponsoring Crowder through clubs and organizations on campus could help as well in having him back. Hopefully, Crowder will be able to return to campus with new topics to talk about.
The important takeaway here is the honest discussion he was able to have with complete strangers. In a time when the country is divided and civil debate infrequent, Crowder takes a step in the right direction with his new segment. Universities are the marketplace for new ideas and thoughts, and it would be great to see more students engaging across political lines.
I encourage all interested students to watch Crowder’s video and keep an eye out for more “Change My Mind” videos.