Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

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Wazoo Doesn’t Want a Coup! Political Identities at Winona State

Co-Presidents+of+the+College+Republicans+Jason+Hoeft+and%0ASamuel+Persche+in+front+of+the+American+Flag.
Jiovani Bermudez
Co-Presidents of the College Republicans Jason Hoeft and Samuel Persche in front of the American Flag.

In a nation often characterized by polarized opinions, Winona stands out where residents passionately embrace a spectrum of ideologies. Considering the political landscapes of Winona State University, the clash of ideas creates a political mosaic as unique as the city itself.

With the Democratic and Republican clubs on campus, students can discuss their shared values and views with their peers. Not everyone in Winona falls into those two political identities, though. Political ideas will also be considered throughout this analysis, including the identities of Democratic, Republican, Independent and Socialist.

In our country, politics seems to be mainly divided into Democrats and Republicans; because of this, a lot of people may assume they don’t have any shared values. However, the presidents of the Winona State College Democratic and Republican clubs proved otherwise. When asked what they believed were some of the most important issues facing the U.S. today, this is what they each had to say.

“I feel like we need to have two healthy parties debating and disagreeing on issues respectfully and we are not getting that right now,” Nicholas Fryer, president of Winona State University College Democrats Club, said. “Because we are seeing both sides fighting.”

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“I’d say probably the biggest issues would definitely be just like the division that’s there,” Jason Heft, president of Winona State College Republicans Club, said. “You can just kind of feel it, there’s a lot of tension between people. If we can figure out a way to just come back together, I think that no matter who’s in charge, I think overall that would help America and the country as a whole.”

While these responses may seem ironic considering the two often contradicting sides of the political spectrum are discussing a collective issue, it may also be refreshing. Democrats and Republicans shared this belief when it came to the social aspect of politics but disagreed on other pressing matters.

“I think the first issue is our democracy because we have a leading candidate right now for the Republican nomination that has many indictments and many charges against him and that does not look good for us on the global stage,” Fryer said. “I think another critical issue that we are lacking right now is the courage to speak up on your own opinion. I see in the Republican party, there is a lack of Republicans that are standing up for their beliefs and letting the extreme wing of the Republican party take over.”

Samuel Persche, another representative for Winona State College Republicans, explained that economically, he believes inflation is another big issue facing the U.S.

“That’s the thing that most affects people like getting groceries, gas and stuff like that,” Persche said.

Outside of Democrats and Republicans, the issues that the other ideologies discussed had varied.

“I would say probably social media corporations [are the main issue] because they hold more power than our actual government,” Caden Crowson, a second-year student who identifies as Independent, said.

“Probably affordable public health care, public transportation and especially cars and trying to deal with the more environmental factors of that,” Nathan Albrecht, a second-year student who identifies as a Socialist, said. “Also the war on drugs and the country needing to aid those who are struggling with addiction.”

Fryer, Heft, Persche, Crowson, and Albrecht also explained when and how they each realized that their values aligned with their political ideology and when they realized that is how they identify politically.

“I feel like probably junior/senior of high school year is when I really started thinking about it. My friends were very up to date (politically) and I trusted them and eventually, I started bending my mind to think of different viewpoints,” Albrecht said. “My values that align with my political identity is that everyone should have basic human rights in order to survive and get by every day.”

“The first point I really truly realized that the Democratic Party aligns with me is when Donald Trump was elected. That’s when I first became aware of the political landscape because that’s when I was first exposed on social media to what politics can be and it was such a time that I felt in the Trump era was very divisive,” Fryer said. “I felt as a person that I needed to align myself with the Democratic Party because we needed to elect candidates that were going to uplift minorities across the country.”

Heft and Persche had different stories as to why they aligned themselves with the Republican Party. They both had shared experiences of growing up in religious households and explained how their religious views also aligned with their political views.

“I would think about it in high school but once I actually graduated and like when I could start voting I guess is when I started looking at what I would actually align with,” Heft said.

Considering that Crowson identifies as an independent, his explanation was dissimilar.

“I realized that I didn’t really care that much (about politics) around 10th grade,” Crowson said. “Striving to be conflict-free and try[ing] to use your own judgment to solve problems and not identify- ing with a specific group,” Crow- son said while explaining what his values were that made him realize he identified as independent.

Another common consensus found among all the political identities/ideologies was where each person gets their political news from. They all mentioned that they try to get political news from neutral sources. They all discussed in a way that they believe that it is important to find news from reliable neutral sources.

“I try to get it anywhere that’s not like the main flagship news sources. So no CNN or FOX News,” Crowson said.

While Crowson stays away from those news sources, Fryer and Heft explained how they both stay in tune with both CNN and FOX News. They clarified that they believe it’s important to hear both sides so that they can learn more about the other perspective.

“I also sometimes look at FOX News to look at other perspectives because then I can also maybe try to pull in independents to my party and also in my club so then we can maybe try to find common ground with each other because I think that’s so important right now,” Fryer said. We need to find common ground in each other.”

If you are interested in discussing your own political views and values or just want to talk about recent events, the Winona State College Republicans Club and Winona State University College Democrats Club each have meetings once a week. Fryer explained that at their club anyone, no matter their political views, is welcome to attend as they want to hear everybody’s perspective. They
host events with political candidates, open discussion nights and other events. Heft explained that they invite everybody they can to discuss and share their beliefs and have open discussions with simple discourse. To learn more, check out the student clubs and organizations page on the WSU website.

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About the Contributors
Lillianna Van De Walker, Features Reporter

Lillianna Van De Walker (She/Her) is a feature reporter for The Winonan and focuses on writing about peoples’ experiences and cultures.

Van De Walker is majoring in journalism and minoring in ethnic studies. She hopes to travel when she’s older to different countries to learn about cultures and write about their daily life experiences and how they are different from her life experiences. 

Van De Walker is from Plainview, Minnesota and it is her second year at Winona State University.

Van De Walker enjoys spending her free time with friends. She loves to write, read, and be outdoors connecting herself to nature. She plans to study abroad in the next two years to broaden her experience with other cultures. She also has a large passion for concerts.

Jiovani Bermudez, Photographer

Jiovani A. Bermudez is a photographer and features reporter for The Winonan as of late spring 2022. He is currently in his fourth year at Winona State University majoring in mass communication with a focus on creative digital media.

Besides photography for The Winonan, Bermudez is currently involved with the university's student radio KQAL as a production assistant and hosting "Jazz Cafe" on Fridays from 9 AM - 12 PM. He also a member of the Dev Team for Cubeify games.

In his free time, Bermudez enjoys playing a multitude of games, biking around Winona, writing, and engaging in discussion about poetry, philosophy, politics, mythology, and games.

Bermudez hopes to make games to share the stories he has written in his favorite medium of entertainment. He also hopes to put his efforts towards voice work.

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