With the midterm elections approaching and buzz heating up around the 2016 presidential race, the Pomona Student Union (PSU) is bringing journalists Conor Friedersdorf '02 and Reihan Salam to campus to discuss "The Future of the Republican Party" for its latest installment in the Great Debate series. The debate will take place Thursday, April 17 at 8 p.m. in Edmunds Ballroom in the Smith Campus Center (170 E. 6th Street, Claremont).
Sam McLaughlin '16, the PSU member who organized the event, says that the Republican Party is currently at a pivotal crossroads. As demographic changes alter the makeup of the country's voters, and as voices from the Tea Party movement and libertarian thinkers challenge the traditional base of the GOP, debates over the future of the party are causing some to question whether the Republicans will split into different factions, or if one political viewpoint will come to dominate.
"Whatever happens within the GOP will have repercussions for the rest of the country and even the world," McLaughlin says. "When one of the two primary political parties in one of the most influential nations in the world appears to be in a moment of change, that's an incredible opportunity to take a close look at the issues and the forces that will shape that transition."
In keeping with the PSU's mission to promote open dialogue and highlight a wide range of beliefs, McLaughlin says the discussion aims to focus on voices and perspectives that are sometimes less visible on campus. "By hosting a debate that gives conservative intellectuals a chance to address the student body, I'm hopeful we can prompt people to think more seriously about the perspective of the political right, and to treat the dialogue that's happening among conservatives with the same thoughtfulness that they bring to other issues."
Salam, co-author of Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream, is a lead blogger for The Agenda at National Review. He works as a columnist for Reuters and Slate, and hosts a weekly podcast for Vice Media.
Friedersdorf, a Pomona alumnus from the Class of 2002, is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the founder of "The Best of Journalism," a biweekly newsletter that highlights excellent contemporary nonfiction. Friedersdorf has written for The Huffington Post and served as a senior editor to well-known conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan.