Town Hall to discuss extremism

Emily Williams

With approval ratings in Washington, D.C., reaching all-time lows in the last few years, many Americans seem fed up with the lack of cooperation coming out of the nation’s capital. As part of the Honors College Town Hall series, a former U.S. Congressman and two professors will speak Monday night about the lack of agreement and progress in government.

“Polarized Politics: How to Restore Trust in Government” is the topic for the the fourth Town Hall Meeting of the year. The most recent event discussed the Affordable Care Act and its effect on students.

“We kind of thought of the idea because this generation is more moderate than it has been in years, and we felt like in the most recent presidential election it was really very polarized,” Claire Armstrong, an Honors College student and organizer of the event, said. “People on the Alabama campus were having trouble identifying with being 100 percent Republican or 100 percent Democrat. So we started talking about why had politics become so polarized and how do we fit here?”

(See also “College Republicans to host congressman“)

Former U.S. Representative Jo Bonner will be the opening speaker and moderator. Bonner will speak from his experience on the polarization of politics and what happens on the inside to cause it.

The second speaker is Emory University professor Alan Abramowitz, author of “The Disappearing Center: Engaged Citizens, Polarization, and American Democracy,” which discusses the causes of polarized politics and its effect on public policy. Abramowitz will share his research and discuss who he feels are the key players in making the government extreme.

UA associate professor of American politics George Hawley, the final speaker, will consider the future of politics and ways to move away from polarized government.

(See also “A normal, closed-minded day in America“)

Robert McCurley, who teaches the course in the Honors College responsible for planning and orchestrating the town hall events, said the discussion can apply to all areas of government – national, state and campus.

“The whole thing is how we got ourselves in this situation, where it doesn’t matter what the other side says. It’s bad,” McCurley said. “What can we do to make people have faith in government again? Are we doomed to be where we are forever? It’s happening in Montgomery with the legislature. Republicans, Democrats, doesn’t matter. It’s like the music is the same, the words are different.”

Armstrong said students will have the opportunity to ask questions.

“I think young people need to be informed, because we are the future of American politics,” Armstrong said. “I think a big percentage of our age group feel like they are more moderate than their parents or their grandparents were. And I think that the ‘moderate party’ is something that people should talk about in politics and where moderates should fit in.”

The Honors College Town Hall meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday in Farrah Hall Room 214. The event is free and open to the public.

(See also “Town Hall lecture to address education“)