Conservative and liberal speakers discussion attempts to bridge political divide

Graysen Golter

Media personalities Guy Benson and Dylan Marron visited UT Tuesday to discuss bridging the divide in American politics and fostering civil engagement.

At the event “People First Politics: A Civil Dialogue with Guy Benson and Dylan Marron,” Benson, a conservative, and Marron, a liberal, talked about how normal Americans can engage in individual conversations to better understand and get along with the opposite side in politics.

“I think our politics are extremely divisive and toxic at the moment,” Benson, a Fox News and NPR contributor, told The Daily Texan. “I think partisans on both sides are angry … and I also don’t think they represent most Americans. I think some of it comes down to intolerance and unwillingness to really open one’s mind and consider other opinions.”

In an interview with The Daily Texan, Marron said it is the responsibility of both sides in American political discourse to try to truly understand one another through constructive means.

“Sometimes we engage in conversations with people just so we can find a way to shut down their argument — that’s not listening,” said Marron, an advocate for minority representation in media. “I fully believe people should engage in difficult conversations about politics, that they should listen to the people they’re talking to, but the big caveat is that they should listen only if they feel they are being listened to as well. The burden is not on one side of it.”

At the event, Marron and Benson addressed each other in friendly and joking terms despite their ideological differences. When discussing hostility in American politics, both men agreed the current administration does not do much to ease these issues. 

“There is no denying the President feeds this problem,” Benson said.

The two speakers touched on themes such as civility in times of turbulent political discourse, whether certain topics should be up for debate and possible biases in journalism.

The event was sponsored by the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Lifeand the Moody College Honors Program, with a nearly full-room attendance of UT students.

“I liked how UT was able to allow (Benson) to come here, because freedom of spech is nice,” journalism sophomore Kennedi White said. “Hearing other opinions is beneficial … and just getting a point of view different than your own.”