As a YouTube clip plays standout moments from 2016 presidential debates, straggling Mizzou College Republicans members arrive at their second meeting. Some laugh when Trump says to Clinton, “I will release my tax returns, against my lawyer’s wishes, when she releases her 33,000 emails that have been deleted.”
Mizzou College Republicans President Anthony Garcia didn’t focus the Sept. 11 meeting around the 2016 election or Trump, but rather U.S. foreign intervention in light of 9/11.
The group is split on which approach they believe the U.S. should take in the Middle East. About half raised their hands when asked if they believed an interventionist approach is smartest. The other half agreed with isolationism.
“My goal as College Republicans president is not to tell people ‘You need to be conservative,’” Garcia said. “It’s to tell them, ‘This is what conservatives stand for.’ We accept libertarians, Democrats, Green Party, communists even. Anybody can come to our meetings. We just want people to be able to figure out their own beliefs.”
Garcia said he hopes to meet with Mizzou College Democrats at least once a month to expose club members to the beliefs of the other party.
Since the club isn’t passing legislation, like lawmakers in Washington D.C or Jefferson City, Garcia said it’s important the organizations debate the issues together.
“It’s not like we can torpedo someone’s bill or someone’s reputation is going to be ruined because of something in our meeting,” Garcia said. “So, we need to have the conversations others aren’t willing to have to try to come up with something constructive.”
Mizzou College Republicans Executive Director and the club’s 2018-19 President Maxx Cook said the executive board wants to offer a more direct streamline between Mizzou College Republicans alumni and current members. He also said he wants to fundraise so members can attend conservative conferences, like Conservative Political Action Conference as well as Turning Point USA conferences, with less financial stress.
“I went to a Turning Point USA conference in Florida where I was surrounded by people that thought very similar to me,” Claire Grissum, College Republicans secretary said. “And it wasn't that I needed to be surrounded by people that thought similarly to me, but it was that I felt more and more comfortable in the way that I was thinking. And I had never really been like that because I'm just here at Mizzou [and] it's obviously a very liberal environment.”
Grissum said coming to college, she felt skittish to express her conservative beliefs after a poor experience with a high school teacher.
“Coming to Mizzou from that background, I kind of kept it a little bit more hush just because I didn't want the crazy outrageous reactions that I'd had in the past,” Grissum said.
Although Cook said he believes there is an apparent liberal bias on campus, he has always been treated with respect because it has allowed him to have constructive conversations.
“There's always a bad apple on both sides,” Cook said. “It's someone who says a really preposterous, disrespectful, honestly terrible thing. That happens. That's just people and they come at it from different views sometimes, but all in all I think it's been very good.”
The Mizzou College Republicans host meetings Wednesdays at 6 p.m. in Room 104 in the Arts and Science Building.
Edited by Ben Scott | firstname.lastname@example.org