On Tuesday evening, the College Republicans and the Network of Enlightened Women co-hosted their weekly meeting in Monroe Hall with guest speaker Emily Jashinsky, culture editor at The Federalist and frequent guest on Fox News, to speak with students about how culture influences politics and how to influence political opinions.
Jashinsky has been involved in conservative politics and media throughout her career — acting as the spokesperson for Young America’s Foundation and then as a commentator for The Washington Examiner before joining The Federalist. Chloe Sparwath, a second-year College student and executive member of both the College Republicans and the Network of Enlightened Women, spoke about their decision to host Jashinsky.
“She's just really honest,” Sparwath said. “And especially for college kids who are looking to get into the political world she's a really good resource to have.”
Sparwath added that the College Republicans have faced backlash in the past for some of their speakers, but that this wasn’t the case with Jashinsky. Sparwath also spoke about the theme of the discussion and how Jashinsky has helped give people the tools to host meaningful political conversations.
“In this day and age I know people are polarized and divided in politics,” Sparwrath said. “So having someone come to talk about how you break down those barriers and start good conversations and relate to other people who have different opinions than you is really important — and there's really no better person for that than her.”
Jashinsky began the discussion by talking about how she believes conservatives are represented in the media.
“Republicans are the party of Donald Trump as far as the media is concerned,” Jashinsky said. “And that means that the media will treat every Republican and conservative in the future just as badly as they treat Donald Trump — and that's really, really scary.”
She then moved on to discuss how she believes the mainstream media is ineffective at impacting personal political opinions.
“I think my job has helped me to understand how unimportant my job is,” Jashinsky said, referencing her time as an opinion writer for The Washington Examiner. “I really don't know that I'm a person who's changing a lot of hearts and minds — I've literally written hundreds of opinion pieces, hundreds of them. When I think about what's changed my mind on a political issue, it's never an op-ed.”
She emphasized the need for having personal conversations with peers and said that’s been the most impactful in shaping her political opinions — and also one of the reasons she visits student groups to talk about politics and political discourse.
“It's usually that conversation with the person that I know,” Jashinsky said. “When I think of the times that my mind was gonna change, it’s not ever been because of a cable news panel. I think usually it's on the personal level — usually it's one to one.”
She also spoke about the difficulty some conservatives face when expressing their opinions after one attendee recounted an experience where their opinion was silenced by another student during a classroom discussion about the Captain Marvel movie due to their race and gender and sexual orientation.
“But how do you deal with people who are like, ‘Shut up, you can't talk about this because you're blank’” the attendee asked.
Jashinsky went on to stress the importance of clear and polite conversations in politics.
“People are trying to dehumanize conservatives because that's how it's easy to make you not have the ability to speak,” Jashinsky said. “And if you're brave enough to speak up and articulate a polite conservative argument — that's the kind of thing that changes people's minds — or hosting discussions, where people's minds can be changed. These are important things to do, because that's what actually makes a difference.”