When Jonathan Arcouette became a Christian a couple years ago, he registered as a Republican.
Arcouette, a freshman from a family “on the liberal side of things,” assumed that evangelical Christianity and the Grand Old Party go hand-in-hand. Not until he met other believers who broke that mold did he come out — out of the Democrat closet, that is.
“[I realized] that I don’t have to vote for someone everyone else is voting for,” Arcouette said.
Now, with the addition of a college pro-life Democrat group, students like Arcoutte, have a place to openly discuss current political news — from the other side of the aisle.
“I think a lot of people don’t even know what the issues are,” said Arcouette. One of the goals of the pro-life Democrat club is to “inform them, to let them know what’s going on,” he said.
The Democrat group is one of two political organizations on campus. The other, Campus Republicans, has been a part of Corban life since YEAR.
Led by psychology advisor Pat Myers, the Democrat club — which is more like a forum — is in its second month of life.
“I think it’s appropriate that with a college Republican group on campus, there should be a college Democrat group,” said Myers.
According to the Democrats For Life of America’s Web site, pro-life Democrats are a splinter group of the Democrat Party that “[exist] to foster respect for life, from the beginning of life to natural death. This includes, but is not limited to, opposition to abortion, capital punishment, and euthanasia.”
Abortion is one key issue that conservative evangelicals find troubling with the Democratic Party. For many, the issue is a deal-breaker. Challenging the “pro-choice” stereotype that Democrats are usually branded with, pro-life Democrats offer an alternative that, according to Myers, “expands the definition of pro-life.”
“War is a pro-life issue,” said Myers. “Poverty is a pro-life issue. Torture is a pro-life issue. I guess I like to push the envelope a little bit.”
Sophomore Michael Pargeter is another pro-life Democrat who has found a home and a mission within the group. Pargeter, a political aficionado and friend of College Republicans’ president Neil Mayfield, was “pro-Bush,” he said, until a colleague at work challenged his viewpoint. The conversation proved to be a turning point.
“Maybe charging in blindly is a stupid way to do [politics],” he said.
Now, Pargeter’s interest in politics gives him the opportunity to share his views on a nightly basis. Frequently, while he watches the news via podcast, guys from his hall come into his dorm room and ask him to sum up the news in a minute.
“It’s annoying,” he said.
Although turnout for the group is still sparse, those present hold a wide range of opinions.
“I wouldn’t consider myself a bleeding heart liberal,” said ASB President David Collett, who attends the meetings. “I guess I just realized that I didn’t fit into the Republican box.”
Not a registered Democrat, Collett doesn’t see himself as a Republican either.
“I don’t claim to be totally politically aware … or know all the answers,” he said.
For Collett, the club serves as a place to stay politically informed, locally as well as nationally.
“There’s so much focus on the presidential elections, though the impact of total elections is crucial,” he said. “Your governor is a huge decision.”
Collett noted that, ironically, “more people vote for American Idol” than for the president.
Although the pro-life Democrats are aware of being one of two political clubs on campus, they don’t view the college Republicans as rivals.
“In a Christian community, I don’t think it should be an issue. You drive a Ford, I drive a Chevy,” said Collett.
The objective of both groups is the same: to involve students politically.
“I’d like to see more diversity of view here on campus,” said Arcouette.
Neil Mayfield, president of the College Republicans on campus, holds the same view.
“One reason people are so apathetic is because they don’t know what’s going on,” he said. We want to “make people be able to think for themselves,” to “ask why.”