Young Republican Club raises awareness for party’s position

By Izzy Meyers

It’s the middle of a typical history class debate, the topic anything from economic reform in the 1900s to the controversial actions of a president. For many students, the decision to speak up is easy, and their opinions are shared by the majority of their classmates. But for members of the Young Republican Club, the choice is not always so simple.

According to junior Nora Bayer, she joined the club to become more educated about the party she supports, especially because she often feels isolated in her political beliefs.

“They are few and far between at BHS and it’s nice to get together with other Republicans at the school and be able to talk through political issues and make sure that I’m educated on specific issues and can educate the rest of the school about them, too,” Bayer said.

 For co-founder and senior Yarden Lebenthal, the purpose of the club is to create an open forum for the discussion of political beliefs.

 “A lot of people perceive the club as a controversial thing and I think it shouldn’t be,” Lebenthal said. “It’s the way America was created. We all have the rights to our own opinions. None of us are radicalists; we are just here to express our basic rights.”

 Co-founder and senior Brett Amendola said that the environment of the club allows for more balanced conversations about politics than regular classes.

 “I know previously in history class I would say something and there would be five people who would overpower the conversation,” Amendola said. “In this environment, there’s equal participation and everyone is heard.”

 According to Bayer, students of both major parties can be misinformed about their party’s beliefs, or may automatically believe what their parents do. She said the club aims to inform these students so that knowledgeable and considerate debates can take place.

 “There’s a lot of them, both Democrats and Republicans, who don’t know what they are arguing,” Bayer said. “Or they’re like, ‘my parents are Democrats’ or ‘my parents are Republicans’ and that’s all they really have. Our goal is educating them so that we all can have debates that make sense and that are respectful toward our party’s beliefs.”

 Even within the club itself, members disagree on certain issues. Nevertheless, for junior Noa Schwartz, the club’s atmosphere is one that welcomes disagreement.

 “I think that’s the beauty of the club,” Schwartz said. “Some people lean further in one direction than the others do, but, as a club, we can still commit to respecting others, which is part of the beauty of political parties in general.”

 According to Bayer, outside the club, Republicans at the school are still often misunderstood by the student body.

 “When you say you are a Republican they think you are the extreme of the extreme, which is maybe two or three percent of the party,” Bayer said. “They always think that you don’t like this race or this group of people, but I’ve never said that. They take the most extreme parts and assume that’s what I believe in.”

 At Back to School Night this year, parents were shown a photo of the club with their sign during a presentation. Though Headmaster Deborah Holman said that the photo was not meant to offend anyone, when students in the club found out through their parents, they were very upset as they thought their photo was shown as a joke.

 This year, according to Lebenthal, the club aims to destigmatize the way Republicans are viewed by the school community and gain respect from both students and faculty.

 “My main goal for this year, because we are a new club, is to make that stigma go away. It is our right to have these opinions.”

 For Schwartz, being viewed solely as a controversial club is not only irritating but also disrespectful to her personal beliefs.

“They think we are just here to antagonize the social norm of the school,” Schwartz said. “In history class, when we bring up the whole ‘Republican thing,’ I will hear people behind me saying my name or mentioning the club. But it’s not a joke. We are here and we are trying to do something. No one who comes and takes a stance should be looked at as a joke.”

Izzy Meyers can be contacted at [email protected]