Coalition Building

By Julia Wolf

While Monday’s morning session focused on the need for people to talk to others with differing political views to gain more understanding and tolerance, today’s session featured a speaker and a two-person panel discussion to give a postmortem on the election.

Doctor Julia Azari, who teaches at Marquette University, talked about the importance of talking to members of your own political party. She said it is especially important to talk to segments of the party that are different from your own in order to understand the goals that those groups want and figuring out how they align with your own goals for the party platform.

The most recent election showed hints of fragmentation within both parties, with candidates from outside the party structure doing well. However, Azari also said the parties are stronger when those within the party work together despite their differences and disagreements. Her suggestion to the students in attendance was to go to local party meetings outside of campus organizations to bridge the age gap.

Azari said the goal of discourse within the party is to strengthen the loyalty to the party so the party can act as it was intended to, as a device to coordinate votes. A strong party helps create bipartisanship by giving party elites the opportunity to bring members with similar beliefs together so they can work more efficiently with the other party, Azari explained.

In the afternoon, the class did a site visit to PYXERA Global. Matt Clark, who is the Senior Global Engagement Manager at PYXERA, spoke to the class. The nonprofit promotes sustainable development both domestically and abroad by partnering with companies, Clark said.


Matt Clark, left, spoke to Drake students about the way PYXERA forms partnerships to benefit all of the groups involved in their efforts. Photo credit: Julia Wolf

Clark spoke about the time a company wanted to work with PYXERA, but the members were hesitant to accept the offer because they did not fully support the way the company treated their employees. After some office debate, he said PYXERA decided to work with the company.

The reason Clark gave for the nonprofit’s decision to work with the company, despite their disagreement with some of their actions, struck me. He said the nonprofit decided to enter a partnership because they decided that the more they work with the company, the more of a chance PYXERA would have to exert a positive influence on the company’s actions.

In many ways, his comment reminded me of the presentation Azari gave earlier in the day. Bridging the split between different groups in order to form coalitions is often not easy.

Like forming a coalition within a political party, the nonprofit markets their services as benefiting all the parties involved, helping the company, those receiving the assistance, and the other nonprofits involved in the efforts.

Today’s speaker and site visit reminded me that bringing together groups of people who have similar goals is important not only in politics, but also in everyday life. Forming a partnership can better all of the groups involved. It may even make agreeing on solutions with other groups who hold differing viewpoints easier to obtain.



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