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Why are we so divided? Well, it’s not as bad as you think – A Next Generation Politics and Better Angels Podcast

By Ryan Adell

Imagine this: there’s an uncompromising rift in your household. Your mother and brother invariably want to order pizza for dinner, while you and your father never cease to demand sushi. No other options. Just pizza and sushi.

You don’t understand why anyone would want to eat pizza, and, frankly, you don’t care why; you just want your pizza. And, worst of all, the blasphemous pizza-lovers of your family make no effort to understand your fascination with sushi. You’re constantly in a zero-sum game.

This is how American politics feels to many frustrated members of Generation Z – two “sides” – what’s typically dubbed the “Left” and the “Right” –  holding their agendas close, both unwilling to offer an inch of compromise. It’s like a football game, everyone with unyielding loyalty to one of two teams. This system, of course, leaves out those who deny absolute allegiance to just one side.

This is why Next Generation Politics has partnered up with Better Angels, an organization working to depolarize America; we recently co-hosted a podcast with the organization to examine what it means to be “liberal” and “conservative” for Generation Z.

I co-hosted the podcast along with Ciaran O’Connor of Better Angels; our guests were two NGP members, Avalon Fenster and Ryan Arranz, who identify as liberal and conservative respectively.

This was a very interesting and fun conversation that shed some light on how self-identifying liberals and conservatives perceive one another versus the reality of the situation. I encourage you to give the talk a listen! Enjoy!

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A Next Generation Politics Interview: Amy Chua on Political Tribalism

By Ryan Adell, NGP Founder/Executive Director

Amy Chua is an expert in the fields of ethnic conflict and globalization and the author of the recently published book “Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations.” Chua examines the effects of tribal politics and intense group identities abroad, but also the fallout of their increasingly divisive and undermining prevalence at home.

In this interview, I ask Chua about the dangerous trends of the American left and right, and she deconstructs their causes and consequences for the country—and they extend far beyond petty arguments on your Facebook comments.

Ultimately, Chua expresses a conscious understanding of America’s divisions, but a hopeful outlook for a stronger, more united future. You can watch the full interview above. 

 

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NGP Members Are Holding Their Elected Officials Accountable

By Ryan Adell

Since an element of our FLIP initiative is to galvanize Gen Z to hold its representatives accountable, NGP members have been writing open letters to their representatives—from the Mississippi Governor to a Michigan Senator. And on topics from gun reform to the effect of climate change on corn yields. Several have already been published—you can check them out here.

Next Generation Politics challenges you to write an open letter to one of your government representatives. You may be surprised with the response you receive.

And if you don’t get a response, just keep writing. We’ll always publish your letters!

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Congressional Candidates for Indiana’s sixth district square off at an NGP Debate

By Katelyn Goodpaster and Oliver Tompkins

It was an early Thursday night at New Castle High School. Some forty-odd members of the community were gathered around tables, snacking on donuts. There were middle schoolers, high schools, adults, the elderly, school and local government officials. But no one had just come for the donuts; they were there for the debate.

On February 22nd Katelyn Goodpaster, NGP Indiana State director, and Oliver Tompkins, a co-chapter leader, hosted a debate between two Democratic candidates for Indiana’s sixth district, Jeannine Lee Lake and Lane Siekman.

Lake runs a group in a nearby town known as Feed My Sheep, a pantry that helps those who struggle to make ends meet, as well as being the founding leader of Muncie Matters Alliance, a group with the mission to strengthen relationships between the public and the police. Lake says that her disappointment with the outcome of the 2016 presidential election was what inspired her to become a politician.

Siekman was also spurred into his second run for Indiana’s sixth district by the results of the 2016 election. Siekman serves as the Ohio County attorney, as well as being an outspoken member of the democratic party.


After an opening speech by Goodpaster and Tompkins, both opponents squared up for the first question; “What strategies should Congress support in attempts to battle the current opioid crisis?”

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An NGP Kansas Gubernatorial Candidates Forum

Tyler Ruzich (R), Dominic Scavuzzo (R), and Ethan Randleas (LB) are high school students and three candidates for Kansas Governor. This forum, moderated by Ryan Adell, dives into the platforms of the candidates present, their experiences running, and their hopes for the future of the state of Kansas. The forum addressed multiple issues, including gun reform, the opioid epidemic, public education, economic growth, and the future of America’s major political parties.

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A Flipped Roundtable Discussion on Gun Reform in Milpitas, CA

By Shreeya Aranake

On February 25th, the Milpitas High School chapter of NGP gathered to have a flipped roundtable discussion. In the midst of one of the most insistent gun control movements lead by students across the country, it was decided that this was the time to be discussing guns and the role they play in the United States. Chiefly, school shootings were the favored topic of the discussion, as the reality of school shootings is getting increasingly pressed into students’ minds.

All of the members present agreed that gun reform is necessary, however much of the discussion was centered around the implications of school shootings, their individual instigators, and how race has specifically been left out of the conversation.

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A Roundtable Discussion with NYS Comptroller DiNapoli

By Ryan Adell

The incessant buzz surrounding Washington D.C. politics sometimes seems to trump the already little regard given to state level developments — both on the news and at the dinner table. So taking a break from navigating the D.C political jungle, Next Generation Politics members from nine of our chapters across Long Island and Brooklyn sat down with NYS Comptroller DiNapoli on Thursday, February 22, 2018, for a roundtable discussion to talk corporate political spending, government transparency, education spending, state investments, and the battle against public corruption, all dimensions of Comptroller DiNapoli’s work as a state cabinet officer and the head of New York’s Department of Audit and Control.

As a senior in high school, DiNapoli won a seat on the Mineola Board of Education, becoming the first 18-year-old in New York State to hold public office. He went on to work in the private sector, and then serve 20 years in the New York State Assembly. DiNapoli was elected State Comptroller in 2007 by a bipartisan majority of the State Legislature after his predecessor, Alan Hevesi, now a convicted felon, resigned in light of corruption allegations; DiNapoli was elected by New York voters in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.

The two-hour roundtable covered a host of topics; first, members questioned the economic ramifications of New York’s Excelsior Scholarship and its potential long-term benefits. The talk then shifted to New York’s private equity investment program, and its ability to spur private sector jobs across the state. DiNapoli went on to explain the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission on New York; with the ability of corporations to make direct political contributions, in many cases anonymously, DiNapoli uses New York’s unique position as an investor in a range of corporations across the United States and abroad to push for full disclosure of corporate political spending. DiNapoli mentioned that his office uses similar tactics to challenge institutions New York invests in to begin transitioning into the low-carbon economy, citing recent negotiations with Exxon Mobil.

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The Next Generation Politics FLIP Initiative

 

By Ryan Adell 

Let’s cut to the chase: we’re polarized. Just look at the data. Or scroll through the Twitter comments. Or turn on the TV. Political ideology is becoming a culture—it often dictates who campaigns to us, the people we surround ourselves with, what we read and watch, and how we think. And the more civically engaged an excited citizen becomes, the more likely he is to succumb to the dangerous cycle of polarization that’s poisoned our communities and government.

Still, the hollow calls for bipartisanship persist, and then nothing gets done. It’s easy to point fingers, take advantage of the situation, or do nothing. But Next Generation Politics has decided to pass on playing the blame-game. And while talking to “the other side” is an admirable first step, it’s not enough. NGP’s FLIP initiative will galvanize Generation Z to attempt being the other side—to read publications, follow accounts, and argue for issues you thought you disagreed with. But to NGP, FLIP doesn’t just mean changing what you read or talk about—it means rejecting the pre-packaged set of beliefs a “liberal” or a “conservative” is expected to accept without a thought; it means you sharing your beliefs with your party, instead of your party pressing its beliefs on you; and, most importantly, it means looking at those who you disagree with as individuals who you can compromise with, instead of members of a team that you just have to tear down.

The Next Generation Politics FLIP initiative will operate under three pillars:

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Chatting with Ken Bone

By Ryan Adell

Ken Bone is a coal power plant operator from Illinois. He gained instant popularity after asking a question at the second presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Since then, Bone has worked to demilitarize unproductive and divisive political discussion in the United States by advocating for bipartisanship and political unity.

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NGP’s First Year—A Reflection

By Ryan Adell, NGP Founder/Executive Director – Jan. 22, 2018

 

 

Next Generation Politics officially launched in January of 2017. We started with a basic Weebly website, a disorganized GroupMe chat, and a few high school chapters scattered around New York. Today, thanks to word-of-mouth, social media and lots of emails, NGP has over 1,000 members and 50 chapters across 15 states and 4 countries, with the majority of chapters taking the form of chartered school clubs in high schools.

 

We’ve made a footprint on social media, with 22K Facebook likes, 3K Twitter Followers and 1.8K Instagram followers, and our Blog, with over 25K subscribers, continues to grow, boasting contributors with views so varying that they definitely break the confines of the “political spectrum.”

 

But it all started when NGP hosted its first event one year ago: a debate—the electoral college vs. the popular vote—held at the South Huntington Public Library on Long Island, New York.

 

We quickly identified a major flaw in the debate’s structure: it was engineered to expose disagreement between two distinct viewpoints and offered no opportunity to reconcile those viewpoints. During the debate, it was deemed a sign of weakness to concede to another debater’s point of view in hopes of finding some level of common ground—you’d be ostracized by the people on your side. That’s not too far off from how our government operates today.

 

So we restructured our events to actually promote the values of our mission: bipartisanship and civic engagement. Our roundtable discussions, town halls, and Blog all function to create compromise and to uncover the common hopes for the future of government among Generation Z that transcend geography, religion, race, and partisanship.

 

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