Campaign to engage young people in the political process draws hundreds of students to Jack Morton Auditorium.
George Washington University students lived up to a reputation as the most politically active college students in the country Monday, packing Jack Morton Auditorium for a live broadcast of "The Young Turks (TYT) on Fusion."
It was TYT’s second outing in a national tour of a dozen colleges and universities this election season. The audience was loud and enthusiastic if not as rowdy as urged by a TYT reporter just before the live broadcast on Fusion that also was streamed on Facebook. (See a clip of SA President Erika Feinman.) Well ahead of airtime, more than 200 students lined the hallway to Jack Morton Auditorium. They were defying recent polls that say people younger than 30 have lost interest in politics after candidates millennials supported in the presidential primaries failed to win major party nominations.
Many in the audience were freshmen, an age group targeted by TYT that has developed more than 3 million followers on several cable channels, YouTube and social media sites.
The Young Turks headliners Ana Kasparian and John Iadarola walked onstage to vigorous applause and whoops. They were joined by Nando Vila of Fusion, which is partnering with TYT in a campaign to get young people more involved in politics.
TYT Chief Administrative Officer Jack Gerard, on hand to coordinate the event with GW staff, said, “We want them to pay attention to policy that is going to impact them, regardless of which side of the line they fall on. We want them to be able to talk, make their case and become educated and learn from each other.”
TYT's Progressive Politics
TYT makes no pretense of being objective and reflects the progressive politics of the show's creator Cenk Uygur, who caught flak recently for shifting his support from Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton.
That was not a problem for GW freshman Emma Shindell.
“I’ve been watching TYT forever," Ms. Shindell said, "and [I] support Wolf Pac,” TYT’s initiative to overturn Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruling that allows unlimited funding of political candidates.
Freshman Spencer Bracey called TYT’s politics “borderline radical. I don’t agree with everything.” He attended the event “because the Young Turks really open conversations.”
For College Democrats member Thomas “T.J.” Worthington, Mr. Sanders is a starting point.
“I mean he started a revolution as corny as that sounds," Mr. Worthington said. "So, it is like giving young people our age hope, even though he is super old, and showing us that we can make it even if he didn’t make it all the way. “
In fact, Mr. Worthington and freshmen Morgan Caldwell, Nick Mihilovic, all members of GWCollege Dems, showed up for the broadcast after spending the weekend in Philadelphia, working the phones and canvassing for Hillary Clinton. They were primed for the discussion on money in politics.
Money in Politics
In exchanges with TYT reporter Jordan Chariton, GW students alternated between levity and indignation when describing the role of money in politics. They characterized unlimited campaign contributions as “bribery” at one point, saying that it undercuts citizen participation in politics.
One young woman equated the power of big money to being robbed of freedom of speech. “Money is now speech,” she said. “Why do [candidates] have to worry about what I have to say when I’m not donating to their campaign?”
Other students, mining a lighter vein, offered a range of prices up to $1 million to say publicly what they do not really believe--that climate change is a hoax.
The exchange preceded the opening segment with Ms. Kasparian and special guest Neera Tanden from the Center of American Progress, who discussed the effect of “dark money,” which she described as the interference of unlimited contributions to political campaigns in getting anything done in Congress.
The show wrapped with students volunteering politicians biggest lies, topping the list with “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.”
Fusion reporter Nando Vila was impressed. “I mean, how old were they when that happened? Four?”