Vox Co-Founder Warns Of Harmful Partisanship

Ezra Klein, the co-founder of Vox, speaks Oct. 10 at the Faulkner Performing Arts Center. Klein is the first speaker of the 2019-2020 Distinguished Lecture Series.

UA students and community members gathered at Faulkner Performing Arts Center on Thursday night to hear the perspective of Ezra Klein, journalist and co-founder of Vox, on current-day Washington and what people can do to make a change in politics. 

Klein was the first speaker of the 2019-20 season of the Distinguished Lecture Series, organized by the Office of Student Activities.

“I have a set speech that I often give, but tonight I do not,” Klein said at the beginning of the event. “Tonight, I am going to do something new.” 

Klein’s speech was a direct reaction to the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, he said. Klein began the evening by polling audience members on how many think Trump will be impeached, to which the vast majority raised their hands. According to NBC, currently 55 percent of Americans support impeachment of Trump.

“Impeachment is fundamentally political and fundamentally partisan,” Klein said. 

Klein thinks if the impeachment process of President Trump fails, it might set a precedent for future presidents: that they are safe if their political party is favored by the Senate, Klein said. Klein views the American political system as one that supports conflict, he said. 

Klein thinks the state of polarized political parties today is in direct response to the unstable political system the U.S. has, he said. Many Americans have a distaste for the idea of voting on party lines because of its tendency to polarize opposing sides, but Klein thinks this partisanship can help American politics, he said.

“It is much easier to know what side you’re on when you are choosing between a donkey and an elephant,” Klein said. “You’re not going to be undecided.”

However, the issue with polarization is that it usually leads to a stalemate between Democrats and Republicans, Klein said. Klein thinks that this polarization of the parties can be directly linked to the impeachment inquiry.

“For Republicans to admit that the president they backed was corrupt and needed to be impeached would mean Democrats would win the next election overwhelmingly,” Klein said.

For Klein, the solution is for people to become more individual and focus more on local politics, he said.

“We are left with a political system meant to balance states that is breaking under the weight of partisanship and has made America ungovernable,” Klein said. 

Klein encouraged voters to focus on how a candidate plans to restore the political system, rather than just new policies, he said. 

“If we do not fix (the current political system) soon enough it is not going to matter who we have in power,” Klein said.

Nathanael Davis is a staff reporter for The Arkansas Traveler.

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