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C-SPAN Founder Brian Lamb visits Cafe Society to discuss the effects of political ideology

By Staff | Aug 3, 2018

Left to right, Lisa Younis, of Shepherdstown, C-SPAN Founder Brian Lamb and Andrew Fleming, of Florida, talk together following the Cafe Society meeting. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Thirty community members sat together in the basement of the Robert C. Byrd Center, as Cafe Society Facilitator Mike Austin introduced C-SPAN Founder Brian Lamb to the group during its July 24 meeting.

The Cafe Society, which holds its informal discussions Tuesdays from 8:30 to 10 a.m., spoke with Lamb about how the Democratic and Republican parties’ ideologies influence the success of the political process.

“We’ve seen the downside of parties’ ideologies during the past election,” said Austin, the president of the Shepherdstown Community Club. “We’re nowhere on finding cohesion in the political process. Unless you’re very narrow in your political thinking, many people don’t know where to go.”

Some members of the group agreed, mentioning each political party has to make concessions for the political process to work correctly.

“I think the Democratic party’s never done anything to work with stabilizing this country’s machinery. I view this next election as being the most important election in my lifetime. I think both parties are failing dramatically,” said Colin Voigt, of Shepherdstown, who said he unsubscribed from all of his liberal, political emails the week before, due to his frustration with journalism being used as a marketing tool.

While Voigt said he has lost trust in political parties and modern journalism, other members of the group disagreed with him, reflecting on the reliability of certain media outlets.

“I perhaps want to challenge this narrative, that we don’t know what to believe anymore,” said Marty Amerikaner, of Shepherdstown. “To me, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CBN or our distinguished guest’s outlet — they’re carefully edited, they make mistakes, but that doesn’t discount the legitimacy of these news outlets. How many times have we seen real, legitimate, accurate critiques from The New York Times or The Washington Post? I just don’t want to encourage this false narrative.”

Lamb spoke up then, explaining the best way to be accurately informed, is to listen to both sides of an argument.

“Just keep feeding your head with the different sides — too many people only listen to their side,” Lamb said, mentioning he personally practices this, in his media consumption.

Some discussion participants brought up their concern with the Democratic and Republican parties both developing polarizing positions, while failing to represent the average, moderate voter. While both parties’ extreme ideologies attract minority voters, they prevent the parties from working together and coming to concessions.

According to Lamb, parties often accept extreme ideologies not only to gain votes, but to also gain political power and money.

“I’ve been in Washington, D.C. for 52 years, and I’m frustrated as anybody is,” Lamb said about the political parties. “I’ve seen them move where the money is. I think money’s our biggest issue. I don’t care what side you’re on, we’ve had these irresponsible politicians spend $21 trillion, without any concern for the future.”