WC’s Republican Club stands for democratic conversation
U.S. President Richard Nixon was both a Whittier High School and Whittier College alumnus, leading the City of Whittier to be “traditionally Republican turf,” according to Mike Sprague of The Daily News. Sprague’s article shows how Whittier joined many other cities in switching over to being primarily Democratic voters in 2008. However, Republican representation is still found within the College’s Richard M. Nixon Republican Club (RMNRC), founded in 1989.
According to the RMNRC’s portal on OrgSync, the purpose of the club’s foundation was “to bring together students interested and passionate about politics on campus.” The current club’s President, fourth-year Forrest Rouleau, recognizes fluxes in the club’s activity. “I know that over the years it’s been inactive, and there’s other periods where it’s really active,” said Rouleau. “Basically, we’re trying to bring it back up again, trying to get more members.”
The club’s meetings welcome all Poets — Democrats, Republicans, or non-confirmed party Poets — to come and discuss current issues and news. RMNRC’s Vice President, third-year Brandon Mai said, “It’s an open discussion where everyone talks.” By welcoming both parties and unconfirmed parties to meetings, RMNRC practices full discussions that consider all perspectives. “We’ve had so many different people, like, registered Democrats, who [are] trying to look for discussion,” said Rouleau. “We’re the only political club on campus, so we’re really open and want to have a good conversation, try and find common ground.”
A misconception about political conversation is that conversations can get out of hand, attacking personal or sensitive topics. RMNRC does not allow such conversation; they only welcome diverse opinions and ideologies. The three years Rouleau has been with RMNRC, he has yet to see discussions spiral out of control; there is always a sense of acceptance at meetings. “We try to find common ground, try and say ‘I’m looking at it from this perspective,’” said Rouleau. Even when Poets disagree, seeing as the College’s student body comes from a variety of different backgrounds, the RMNRC exercise America’s democracy in valuing all opinions. “Everyone is very respectful in the club,” said Mai.
Outside of political debates and conversation, the RMNRC also volunteers for Republican candidates. Last April, Republican candidates for governor, Travis Allen and John Cox, had what Whittier Daily News described as a “square off” — a forum that was held to showcase both candidates’ debates and views in politics. The forum took place in the City of Whittier at a local DoubleTree. The RMNRC visited the forum to become informed of the opposing Republican candidates’ platforms.
“We get involved [and] volunteer with different candidates,” said RMNRC’s Treasurer, third-year Eric Dutra. Their volunteer work with candidates takes the form of phone banking, knocking on doors, and making conversation with voters. For the current elections, they plan to volunteer further with the campaign of Republican thirty-second district Senate candidate Rita Topalian. “We just try and have a good time . . . spread the word about a candidate,” said Rouleau. According to Topalian’s campaign website, voterita2018.com, “The [thirty-second] district shares the cities of Lakewood and Buena Park with other senate districts.” Within the thirty-second district is the City of Whittier, Topalian being a longtime Whittier citizen. For more on her political positions on the gas tax, Prop 13, education, and more, visit her issues page at voterita2018.com/issues/.
RMNRC’s plan to turn out more voters at the Nov. 2018 elections involved passing out voter registration forms at the College’s Students Activities Fair last September. “[We were] letting everyone know the elections [were] coming up, make sure to get registered to vote,” said Rouleau. During the Students Activities Fair, the RMNRC was able to interact with many Poets on campus and encourage them to sign up for upcoming meetings. “There [are] actually a lot more Republican Poets on campus than we thought,” said Rouleau. Regarding the future, Mai said, “We hope to gain more people in the club, to have . . . more of a discussion, and have more of a diverse group from all different backgrounds.”
If Poets are interested in political discussion with diverse ideals and perspectives, the Richard M. Nixon Republican welcomes all parties and Poets to their meetings on Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. in Hoover 108.