Political junkies have a lot to watch for in the upcoming Democratic debate, and what better way to scope out every detail than on the silver screen?
Gateway Film Center has partnered with media group Columbus Underground to air the fourth Democratic debate at the theater Tuesday, offering a group setting for viewing.
The debate will be hosted by CNN and The New York Times at Otterbein University beginning at 8 p.m. The primary debate will feature 12 candidates, all vying to represent the Democratic Party in next year’s presidential election.
Walker Evans, co-founder of Columbus Underground, said the overall purpose of the watch party is to provide an opportunity for the Columbus, Ohio, community to become more informed on the candidates’ policies and ideas and foster discussion both on national and local issues. He said group watch parties are beneficial because there’s more respect for those with differing views in a public setting than on social media behind a screen.
“So much of our [political] conversation takes place in hostile environments like Facebook, where you get in angry fights with random strangers online, and no one is out to persuade or anything. It always devolves into an insult war,” Evans said. “Once you get together in person with someone, you’re less likely to be hostile and mean like it’s easy to be online.”
Ricky Madrid, a fourth-year in political science and economics, is the president of the Alexander Hamilton Society — an independent, nonpartisan student organization dedicated to promoting constructive debate, according to the club’s constitution.
Madrid said it’s “extremely important” to value the thoughts and opinions of others while discussing politics.
“The key to constructive conversation is to be willing to think about other options different from the ones you’ve already thought about,” Madrid said. “Being willing to change your views, that’s key.”
Evans said the partnership between Gateway and Columbus Underground was a “no-brainer” given both organizations’ commitment to reaching a wider audience and engaging civically.
Local civic engagement can lead to a tangible difference in the community, Evans said.
“You could watch [the debate] at home by yourself, but being in a room where you can take part with other people and discuss different ideas, debate amongst yourselves about different things — there’s value in getting outside of your own scope and communicating with others,” Evans said.
Tickets to the Democratic debate watch party at Gateway Film Center are free and available at the ticket counter. Entrance to the event will begin at 7 p.m.