After Patrick Gage (SFS ’17) arrived at Georgetown and realized that, unlike the College Democrats’ and their publication “The Progressive,” the College Republicans had no official publication, he decided to fill that void with one of his own.
In November, he began to talk to board members about spearheading one for the club, and, on Jan. 13, “The Right Way” was born.
Gage ran his own political blog in high school and felt that the experience qualified him for the job.
“It was something that they had thought of, so I figured, ‘Why don’t I just take this and run with it?’” he said. “I think it was really important also for the club, because the [Georgetown University College] Democrats have been doing it for a couple of years, and I felt that it was important that we not only match that, but try to even do better.”
On any given week, the blog will feature four posts from individual staff writers, including Gage, and one member of the GUCR board. The blog aims to publish well-researched conservative opinions on a wide range of timely issues from women’s rights to anti-abortion stances.
“We’re not aiming to be a news site,” Gage said. “We’re going for an informed editorial, is what I would call it.”
Gage has no requirements for his writers and allows them to choose their own topics.
“From my experience, if you’re told to write about something that you don’t want to write about, you’re not going to write it well. … I think that giving them freedom also really gives us a great diversity of topics other than me just choosing,” he said.
The blog values differences in opinions, including those that may not be traditionally Republican.
“There’s a diversity of opinions in the party, and that’s something you don’t really get from the media,” Gage said. “We’re showing students that Republicans do think differently. We’re not all just machines thinking exactly the same thing at the same time.”
Staff writers have published posts about support for both Israel and Palestine and legalizing marijuana, while Gage has written about opposing the death penalty and supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants.
Staff writer Alex Robledo (COL ’17) also has written about some of these more contentious viewpoints.
“It’s a mixture of what I am personally passionate about, so at least for me I’m really passionate about individual liberty, freedom, so my past articles have been about legalizing marijuana, about being more open and tolerant of gay Americans,” he said.
For Robledo, this is important because he believes college campuses are not always friendly to Republicans.
“I feel like the caricature of Republicans, at least amongst college campuses, is that we’re all of the same mold, and we all agree on the same things,” he said. “Being able to disagree over policy issues, especially within the party, and being able to do that freely, and other people being okay with that, really makes me happy, and I feel like we can learn from each other when we’re able to disagree like that.”
As of Tuesday night, “The Right Way”had received 6,667 page views, with 2,000 unique viewers. These came from 22 countries, with viewers from Jordan composing the second-largest readership after the United States.
“The Right Way” also provides a place for Republicans to express their opinions, which Gage thinks is one of the blog’s most important features.
“We really want to provide Georgetown Republicans a place to share their opinions where we can openly discuss it. It’s a way for students to almost test their opinions also, to kind of put it out there and see what people have to say about it,” he said.
“The Progressive,” which represents GUCD, acts as a platform for liberal and progressive principles, and holds more of a focus on news and current events.
“It’s largely the online newspaper for the College Dems,” Editor-in-Chief Matt Sarge (COL ’14) said. “However, it’s also meant to be a form for all progressive groups on campus, so potentially groups like H*yas for Choice or, in a very broad sense, any progressive leaning group on campus … to write and express their views.”
The online publication, which has 95 pages of articles on its website, has a staff of 12 members, many of whom both write and edit. The site also prioritizes having a steady stream of articles over having a set rotation of writers. They aim to post one to two articles per day, and writers choose their own topics, although the staff also brainstorms ideas at GUCD meetings.
“It gives me an excuse to do a little research into something that interests me during the school week,” staff writer Hayden Frye (COL ’17) said.
Last week, Frye wrote one of the website’s most popular articles, which got about 600 views, on Clay Aiken running for Congress in North Carolina. The daily views on the site range from 100 to a few hundred per day.
“It’s not all opinion and blog. It’s more of an online newspaper than a blog in a sense,” Sarge said. “A lot of articles are well-researched and link to news sites and things.”
In general, the publication supports the mission of the GUCD and follows party policy closely.
“The website speaks both to provide publicity for the College Dems and the things that they’re trying to accomplish and just to espouse the same general principles that the Democratic Party stands for,” Sarge said.
Gage believes “The Right Way” differs from “The Progressive,” in the extent to which each agrees with its respective party’s policy.
“I think ‘The Progressive,’ from what I’ve seen, does a lot to toe the party line,” he said. “I’ve never seen a “Progressive” article that says that opposes gay marriage, for example, or a “Progressive” article that is pro-life.”
Sarge feels his publication’s policy alignment stems naturally from GUCD member’s beliefs.
“We don’t necessarily go extensively out of our way to cater to [a conservative viewpoint] just because, in terms of the staff that we have, they naturally have a certain viewpoint,” Sarge said. “But occasionally they’ll have deviating viewpoints on specific policies, and we don’t in any way try to prevent them from expressing that.”
Occasionally, however, Progressive staff writers do represent dissenting viewpoints, although these are generally on less bipartisan issues.
“Typically when we’ve had people write things that are more dissenting is when there’s not a clear party line on it. We’ve had articles that oppose what President Obama did, in areas like national security issues or drone strikes,” Sarge said.
Sarge also believes that the addition of “The Right Way” to Georgetown’s media and political landscape will help increase dialogue, despite the large difference in size between the two websites.
“The College Dems are a much larger group in comparison. I don’t know how large of a site or a staff they’ll have, but in general I think the more dialogue the better,” Sarge said. “There’s obviously going to be a rivalry in the sense that [GUCD and GUCR] have somewhat opposing missions, but I think having dialogue on the other side can only serve to strengthen the arguments that we make in favor of democratic policy.”
Frye reads “The Right Way” occasionally and also welcomes the competition.
“Their articles are well written. It looks good. It looks professional, and I think it’s important to have both blogs on campus,” he said. “I’m glad that they do because without that you don’t want to have one-sided blogs coming up. You want to have both sides of any issue being represented.”
For Robledo, the size of GUCD is somewhat intimidating, but he hopes that students can still appreciate the views of “The Progressive.”
“Obviously the College Dems are the biggest organization on campus. That’s good for them, but we want to provide Hoyas with a different set of opinions that maybe they haven’t heard or maybe they aren’t really used to hearing,” he said. “We hope that this blog is a way for other people to latch onto our ideas, be exposed to them, maybe they agree with our ideas, maybe they just don’t know it, really just to create a dialogue and to try and make our ideas open to everybody.”