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Experts Claim Republican Party Is Not Racist, Believes in Science

The+panel+took+place+on+Thursday.
The panel took place on Thursday.

The panel took place on Thursday.

The panel took place on Thursday.

An Pham ’20, Staff Writer

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A former U.S. Congressman denounced claims that the Republican Party does not believe in climate change or is against science as “ludicrous,” while deputy chairman to the Republican Party of Pennsylvania claimed social segregation could be solved through economic growth. These statements were made at a recent panel discussion hosted by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues.

The two panelists were part of a discussion titled “Republican Politics Today.” Former Congressman Jim Gerlach ’77 was responding to a question posed by moderator David O’Connell, assistant professor of political science at Dickinson, on whether or not Republicans believed research on climate change was based on factual evidence.

According to O’Connell, several public opinion polls conducted by the Pew Research Center stated that 9 percent of conservatives asked believed that climate change was caused by human activity while 54 percent stated that scientists’ own political opinions were driving the research behind the Earth’s changing climate.

“I think we [Republicans] get accused of a lot of dumb stuff and that’s how I’m feeling, very attacked. And people don’t even know what they’re attacking about and they kind of make-up stuff,” stated Reneé Amoore, deputy chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, in response to O’Connell’s question.

She also claimed; “The best answer to social segregation is by promoting economic growth, so as to create more opportunities for everyone to improve their lives.” This time, Amoore was responding to O’Connell’s inquiry about what the Party could do to retain and attract the votes of minority voters, especially those of Hispanics and African-Americans.

Amoore further urged senators to communicate more effectively with these groups, to talk directly with the people and understand their daily struggles.

The panel also stressed that the Republican Party is not a monolithic entity that thinks and speaks as one.

“Just like the Democratic Party, we are made up of millions of individuals with distinct standpoints across the political and economic spectrum. It is ridiculous to believe that we can agree on every single issue before us,” emphasized Gerlach.

Brandon Ferrance, chairman of the Pennsylvania Federation of College Republicans, also called for unity within the United States, regardless of people’s political or social views.

“America is more polarized than ever. We need to come together as a country and work together to make a change instead of fighting meaninglessly,” he stated.

While Gaby Fleming ’18, was glad to see more conservative speakers on campus, she was disappointed with some of the questions O’Connell asked.

“I was disappointed to see some very loaded questions presented by the moderator, especially the question regarding science, which read like an accusation,” she said. “As a liberal arts college, I think more time needs to be devoted to hosting and entertaining a wider variety of political thought, especially conservative-leaning thought.”

Michale Kozinski ’21 also thought the questions posed were biased.

“I thought the event overall was good, and it was nice to hear more conservative opinions on a mostly leftist campus. However, I thought some of the questions were a bit biased. The Democrats have plenty of unscientific views on GMOs and vaccines,” he said. “Science denial is a problem for both parties and I would have appreciated if the questions treated [it] as such. Other than that, I thought it was a well put together event.”

On the other hand, Zach Liga ’20 thought the moderator’s questions were based on solid research and it was the panelists who were reluctant to answer.

“They [the speakers] were being really rude to Professor O’Connell, who was doing an excellent job as a moderator. When he provided many research results on public opinion, indicating that a lot of Republican voters do not believe in climate change, the former senator [Gerlach] even tried to accuse him of lying,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t think they did a good job of representing the G.O.P. I feel like this talk just reinforced my negative opinions of the Republican Party.”

Kevin Ssonko ’20 was also eager to hear more from the panelists.

“The panel was a display of good rhetoric but ultimately failed to address some very important questions I had about the party. While each panel member presented well, when actually faced with compelling questions they appeared to shy away from making any real hardline statements”

Fleming added, “a Republican-leaning event like this hasn’t been held since 2011…Dickinson needs to continue hosting events like these because many Dickinsonians I’ve met over the years have completely false conceptions of what Republicans truly stand for.”

The panel also included Robert Borden ’91, deputy staff director of the House Committee on Oversight and took place on Thursday, Oct. 5.

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Experts Claim Republican Party Is Not Racist, Believes in Science