Constitution Day forum weighs the merits, burdens of political parties

Candice Criss

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A lively debate about political parties and the US Constitution took place Saturday at the Orange Grove Bistro.

The panel featured CSUN history professor James Sefton and University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire political science professor John Evans as its speakers.

The attendees were able to participate in the discussion by asking the panelists questions about the topic and providing comments.

Marcella Tyler, executive director of program advancement, has been coordinating this event for 12 years. She understands that this event not only provides knowledge of the Constitution but encourages people to have conversations about it.

“The university’s annual Constitution Day event celebrates a document that plays a vital role in the lives of all Americans,” Tyler said. “This event is a good example of what the Constitution allows its citizens to do, gather for intelligent discussion.”

Sefton has been has been a professor at CSUN for 50 years and understands the importance of events like these. He said that the ultimate goal of these panels was to educate.

Evans, who once was a professor at CSUN, started his half of the discussion by pulling out his pocket Constitution and jokingly asking the audience to go to the section that talks about political parties, which does not exist.

His spirited response to the topic, along with his heavy use of sports analogies, kept the crowd engaged and ready to talk.

“Everybody here feels passionate about politics, I would say,” Evans said. “They all have their particular issues and whenever you’re talking to the public about the issue that they care about, they are going to want to go on about it.”

Tyler said that she chose these two people to speak because they are Constitutional experts who have a large understanding of what it is and what it is supposed to do.

Evans believes that it was a good idea to put him and Sefton together as they both bring something valuable to the discussion.

“You’ve got your political science, your history and I studied constitutional law,” Evans said. “So we have the historical perspective and the political science perspective.”

Tseng College promoted their event in many media outlets but a majority of older people made up the large turnout.

“We target everybody. We do a lot of social media,” Tyler said. “(Senior citizens) are the ones who have the time and are willing to invest it in a Saturday morning.”

Evans agreed, and said older people tend to be more interested in things that have to do with the government.

“Some people that are a little bit older participate more and are more interested,” Evans said. “As you get older you start to think back and say ‘I care about my country and I’m going to participate’.”

Alumni, professors, writers and many interested citizens were in attendance. Most of them were not shy about sharing their views and asking questions about things they wanted to know more information about.

Evans said he preferred that type of crowd.

“We want to get them to not just care but to know,” Evans said. “Passion that is not informed can be dangerous.”