Students, faculty discuss tea party purpose

Courtney Laverdure
Staff writer 

“Is the tea party a formidable movement in American politics or a Tempest?”

This was the question posed to the members of the panel and audience discussion about the tea party in American politics held in Richmond College Thursday, Oct. 20th.

The panelists included students Travis Rupprecht, junior, Ballwin, Mo., Teris Moodie, senior, Smithland, Ky., Nathan McNichols, freshman, Metropolis, Ill., and John Walker, Nicholasville, Ky., as well as faculty members, Jim Humphreys of the history department and Timothy Johns of the English department.

The discussion was a collaboration between Leon Bodevin, the faculty head of Richmond College and Jody Cofer, academic program specialist and member of the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion.

“The panel was very diverse in their political views,” Cofer said.

He said, the programs held with this discussion format are meant to pick a topic where there is expressed public interest or known controversy.

In the past, the discussion panels have covered topics such as diversity, globalization, drinking age, and Islam.

Bodevin asked Cofer to be the moderator at this event that shed light on the role of the tea party in modern American politics.

The panelists were asked to describe their own personal definition of compromise and their beliefs on whether or not Americans know what it means to compromise in politics anymore.

They also discussed what the tea party stands for presently as opposed to what it stood for at its conception.

The tea party originally spun out of concerns from the country’s economic house and the distrust to government, Cofer said.

How the tea party is different from the conservative movement and the Republican Party was also a topic for concern.

The general consensus reached by panelists was the tea party has been effective and served its purpose.

The panelist then had to define what they interpreted as effective.

“Has the tea party found its niche to stay around,” Cofer posed to the panelists.

In light of the latest developments in New York, NY., the panelists were asked if the movement of Occupy Wall Street was comparable to the tea party for the left.

“These days it is not easy to navigate politics,” Cofer said.

Political candidates ought to stand on principles, but where do you divide principles and compromise?, Cofer asked.

“According to polls, there was a fall of 7 percent in support for the tea party after the debt ceiling compromise was announced,” Cofer said. “People want to support the cause they want to believe in, and they aren’t as open to walking away from it when it comes to political compromise.”

The next panel will most likely be held early next semester, but the topic has yet to be determined. The pending Healthcare reform is one subject under consideration.

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