After noticing a lack of political diversity at ASL, Cameron Moghadam (’19) and Jonathan Philips (’19) founded the ‘First Amendment Society’, casually known as the 1A Society, a club which promotes the tenants of freedom of speech and freedom of thought, as outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
Moghadam, who is vice-president of the club, said that he and Philips, who is president of the club, wanted to expose students to different political ideas. “We thought that the club would be a great way to facilitate [political] debate because we don’t think there’s enough of that at ASL,” Moghadam said. After filling out the formal application and speaking with Club Coordinator Mariam Mathew, Moghadam and Philips were able to officially call themselves a student club.
Moghadam, along with the majority of the other members of the club consider themselves conservative. He believes that because “a lot of students share the same political views” there is a lack of debate and understanding of different viewpoints. “In general, what’s been happening is that conservatism is being associated with reactionary, which is sort of the Trump and Bush conservatism, which we definitely don’t identify with,” he said. “We identify with a more classical version [of conservatism], and we want to expose it to more students.”
Agreeing with Moghadam and Philips, Moritz Linn (’19) joined the club. Linn feels that the club provides a safe space for him to express his combination of libertarian and conservative viewpoints, something which he doesn’t always feel encouraged to share with the greater community or in his classes. “I would say it’s definitely not to my advantage to speak out. I think that a lot of people are quite close-minded about different opinions,” he said.
In class, Linn believes that it can be scary or difficult to share a dissenting opinion, as he noticed that the majority of the teachers share a similar political ideology. Because the majority of teachers voted for Hillary Clinton in a mock 2016 presidential election, Linn is “always a bit hesitant to [speak out],” he said.
The club currently has about 10-15 student members and one faculty adviser, Math Teacher Ray Blanch, but hopes to bring people of all different political backgrounds together to debate key issues such as individual liberty, taxes, trade, feminism, immigration and Brexit. They are also active on Instagram, posting “political memes” every few days.
Moghadam and Philips co-wrote a manifesto, which outlines the general beliefs of the club. Included in the document are some of the aforementioned key issues, with opinions such as, “the 1A Society believes that the lowest tax rate possible is the best rate possible. It is simply the moral thing to do, people should keep what they earn,” “the 1A Society is broadly in favor of immigration.”
Additionally, the manifesto states, “We support extreme vetting and any other prudent measures to ensure that anyone pursuing a visa should be getting a visa,” and “the 1A Society firmly opposes Affirmative Action. Race and socioeconomic status are not necessarily akin.”
Despite the existence of this manifesto and the majority of the club members being conservative or libertarian, Linn claims that members frequently disagree on specific policies and policy implementation. He further believes that diversity of thought and opinion is the most important type of diversity. “That’s where growth comes out of and learning comes from– when people disagree with you,” he said.
Debate is inherent to club’s hopes for the future. Moghadam hopes that students can discuss and debate these issues to eventually come to a consensus. He stressed that all students are welcome at the club’s meetings, in room O-345, to debate the key issues. He hopes that in doing so, “we can distance ourselves from this polarization and we come together and compromise and we come up with solutions.”
Written by Lead Features Alexandra Gers
Photos from Instagram.com/1ASociety