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Race, Ethnicity and Identity Conference addresses how the modern information stream effects governance

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Steven Tryon

By Joshua Vissers

Stephen Tryon, ex-Army officer of 21 years, former Overstock.com executive, author and hopeful U.S. Representative, will be at GRCC Thursday to speak to attendees of the Race, Ethnicity and Identity Conference. His book, “Accountability Citizenship,” explains how we can more effectively manage our government in the Information Age.

“Americans have been passive consumers of information and government throughout our history,” Tryon said. “We have to adapt to the way information is coming to us.”

He believes that all that is really needed to fix our government is greater participation and awareness on the behalf of citizens. In his book, he recognizes some myths that are perpetuated by what he calls the information stream, which is the constant bombardment of information that most Americans have in their everyday lives with radio, television and finally the internet.

“We have this vicious cycle where we’re disenfranchising people with the information stream,” Tryon said, describing the way people become frustrated with what they are presented with and lose hope in the system, leading them to withdraw from the political process entirely. This happens in part because of bipartisanship.

“We like to package things as a conspiracy,” Tryon said, explaining how it simplifies complex topics to be able to blame them on a group of “bad guys.”

“We start to look at the other side… as evil. When we start to see the other side as evil, we begin to justify evil in ourselves… That’s what we’re allowing in our political dialogue,” Tryon said.

He pointed to the recent scandal in New Jersey where traffic on a bridge was intentionally backed up in an act of political retribution.

Tryon believes this trend is pushing us through a spectrum of conflict, that if not corrected could lead to violence.

“We should disagree respectfully,” he said.

Tryon doesn’t think it should be all that hard to change our trajectory, with a little effort from each citizen.

“If we take care of transparency and accountability, the rest will take care of itself,” he said, recommending each of us choose those things most important to us, and educate ourselves on how to vote those topics.

“Go after a balanced view on the things you find most important,” Tryon said.

Tryon’s attempt for political office started after he attempted to speak with his local representative to the United States House of Representatives.

“I couldn’t get in to see him,” he said, despite having tried multiple times.

Tryon then discovered that in the next election, this same representative was running unopposed.

“There should always be another name on the ballot,” he said, and that’s why he left Overstock.com to run for office.

Tryon’s speech is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday in room 108 of Sneden Hall.