Uniting the Divide

Daisy P., Editor in Chief

Politics. Politics is the one word that can instantly get friends, family, and classmates into an argument. The word politics is defined as any activity associated with governing an area directed mainly towards debate or conflicts in opposing parties. But why are politics such a combative topic? One of the reasons is that everyone has different opinions on what aspects are important in his or her lives and what is irrelevant. This is why the Ronald Reagan Leadership Summit was so important this year.

On October 12 and 13, the Second Annual Leadership Summit was held at the Ronald Reagan Library. This years theme, “Uniting the Divide”, focused on uniting both major political parties, the Democratic party, and the Republican party.

The summit was focused mainly around keynote speakers and workshops to practice the student’s leadership skills. Because of the summit’s quarrelsome topic, you may create an impression of this being a very aggressive meeting among students and adults who attended, but actually, It was quite the opposite. The meetings topic might have been focused on the argumentative topic of politics, but it was based around the acceptance of different political views.

Sophomore Nicolette S. said, “I really enjoyed all the topics that were talked about at the summit. They were all really relevant to ideas used today in daily life talking about political issues.”

The first speaker on Saturday was Cole S. Cole is co-founder and co-director of Fair Opportunity Project, a nonprofit that distributes financial aid information and college applications for high schoolers. He told his story about how politics can apply to everyone’s life. One of Coles major points was that “Social isolation is caused by  politics, and not the type of social isolation where you hide in your room and watch Netflix.” As well as realizing common goals can bring us together, but can equally rip us apart, politics can be an activity able to let people work together to complete a common goal or argue about their differences. Cole said the most important topic of his speech was “be curious and actively engage in conversation.”

The ending keynote speakers were Annaif W., founder and editor of the Flip Side and Jihan Varisco, her partner, and editor. Wahed created this site to reduce bias in news stories and write from two points of view, the conservative side and the liberal side, while summarizing the content in easy, five minute reads. They chose one or two of the biggest political stories and sorted through other articles, removing all the fluff and bias opinions, to create two, true articles from both of the points of view. In their speech, Varisco said that “40% of both Democrats and Republicans think that the opposing party is a threat to the country’s well being.” A chart was shown in their presentation showing how much people trusted the news channels and sources they use on a day to day basis. The Flip Side team made clear in the presentation that public trust in the media is at an all-time low, and that is where The Flip Side comes in. The main goal of the site is to bridge the gap between the major parties and allow people of one political party to understand the opposing points of the other.

The Summit was accompanied by activities, after the speakers, that allowed students to get into their community and understand the debate and political opinions of others. Some of these included the Better Angels Debate, a workshop that focused on how to discuss the most controversial topics in American society in a respectful manner to the other party. Other workshops focused on leadership skills, acknowledging others differences, thinking about the social impact of the future and empowering education. Freshman Sabrina P. said, “I liked all the workshops. My favorite was politicraft, which was like a political card game.”