From left: Tony Hall (D-OH), Jennifer Walsh, and Frank Wolf (R-VA).
From left: Tony Hall (D-OH), Jennifer Walsh, and Frank Wolf (R-VA).

APU Election Events Inspire Unity Despite Differences

by Evan R. Cain

As the presidential election quickly approaches, the nation is divided along party lines like never before. A 2016 survey conducted by Pew Research Center found that 58 percent of Republicans have a very unfavorable impression of the Democratic Party, up from 46 percent in 2014, and 55 percent of Democrats have a very unfavorable impression of the Republican Party, up from 43 percent. These statistics are consistent with numerous studies that bear the same results: the country faces significant ideological polarization on political issues.

“We tend to consume news that supports our biases and share our thoughts with people who agree with us,” said Jennifer E. Walsh, Ph.D., dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Many of us live and communicate in a political echo chamber; we don't engage for long with people who have a different opinion. As a Christian community, APU is called to break this cycle.”

To help facilitate informed and civil political discourse, the Department of History and Political Science is hosting 12 events on campus, concluding with an election night viewing party on November 8. The forums and discussions touch upon the central issues of the 2016 election, including media framing and presidential rhetoric, liberalism and conservatism, and a two-night overview of the 17 California ballot initiatives.

As a Christian community, APU seeks to engage with complex issues from a place of love and mutual respect. “Friendship Across the Aisle: United by the Gospel,” the inaugural event in this series, featured Tony Hall (D-OH), former UN Ambassador and Democratic congressman, and Frank Wolf (R-VA), former Republican congressman. The two discussed bipartisan partnership and cooperation and discovering common ground through the Gospel. The forum emphasized that, regardless of political views, unity is possible through Christ.

“The constitution that granted us our freedoms also bestowed upon us a responsibility to be informed and engaged. Many of the issues we grapple with today do not have easy answers. Despite our disagreements, we acknowledge that we share the same values: we desire safe communities, a healthy economy, and ultimately, we seek justice,” said Walsh. “Our political systems are designed to represent different approaches to these issues. And while we may disagree as to which approach is best, we are connected by our concerns for our country’s well being.”

The challenge is for people to vote beyond their self-centered concerns. “We must ask ourselves if we are voting merely to promote our personal interests, or are our thoughts in the best interest of our families, communities, and country,” said Walsh. “If the opportunity to vote becomes a public grab for power and greed, then democracy fails. There is a way to vote our conscience, while leaning into cooperation and unification in Christ.”

To see upcoming election events, view APU’s calendar. For more information, call the Department of History and Political Science at (626) 815-3843.

Evan R. Cain '18 is a public relations intern in the Office of University Relations. He is a biblical studies and humanities major in the Honors College.