Tag Archive | "Politics"

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Ron Paul is not the only libertarian New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson hits the political scene

Posted on 10 March 2010 by Andrew Marshall

As much as anything else, strong personalities drive contemporary American politics and the accompanying 24-hour news cycle. The compelling life stories of both Barack Obama and John McCain helped them package their messages and win their parties’ presidential nominations, and certainly President Obama’s charisma and personal mannerisms contributed to his triumph in the general election. Other political figures such as Sarah Palin, Al Franken, Dick Cheney, and Jesse Jackson owe much of their support and notoriety to their styles of campaigning and speaking. Political ideas without compelling advocates tend to go nowhere, and this especially holds true for ideas and philosophies which fall between the cracks of our limiting two-party system. The media elites and intelligentsia, as well as the greater public, also dismiss as crazy those causes which are associated exclusively with a single offbeat public figure.

Following his 2008 libertarian campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas, one of the few politicians I support on most issues, has used his newfound celebrity to promote a number of causes, including his signature battle against the powerful Federal Reserve system. In light of the financial crisis, his ideas, particularly his push for a transparent and full audit of the Fed, have now gained significantly more grassroots and congressional support than in previous years. However, to the media, Ron Paul and libertarianism have become one and the same phenomenon. Even as Paul’s celebrity forces the media to mention libertarianism as an alternative to liberalism and conservatism, their unfair portrayal of Dr. Paul as a conspiracy theorist, a racist, and a crazy, cranky old man allows them to quickly dismiss his ideas and the diverse and much broader libertarian movement.

Liberals and conservatives have dozens of articulate and popular spokespersons with national profiles, who each appeal to different demographic and cultural groups within the American public. Libertarians like myself seem to have only Dr. Paul, who has done an amazing job in terms of securing media appearances and communicating a consistent message that makes his opponents in both parties look like hypocrites. America would be a better place if more political alternatives were discussed in the public arena, and libertarianism will only be able to challenge the more established philosophies if the public can recognize more than one public figure as a libertarian.

Fortunately for the sake of political diversity, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson has formed a new non-profit, the Our America Initiative, to create a national platform for advocating libertarian approaches to public policy. Like Dr. Paul, Johnson represents the small and long ignored libertarian wing of the Republican Party. However, Johnson has the potential to reach Americans who are turned off by Dr. Paul’s economics lectures that I love so dearly. For starters, the former governor has eight years of executive experience with a record of making New Mexico’s government smaller and more efficient. He also benefits from being more than twenty years younger than the good doctor and having spent most of his life in the private sector building up his construction business. Most importantly, he climbed Mount Everest with a broken leg.

I had a chance to hear Governor Johnson speak at a conference recently, and he has an understated, calm, and straightforward approach which will help advocate for libertarian issues nationally. Johnson agrees with Dr. Paul on most issues and endorsed him in the 2008 race, but the governor communicates these ideas in a fresh way. He also appeals more to liberals and others wary who might view libertarianism as a right-wing reactionary cult. For example, he was the only sitting Republican governor in 2000 not to endorse George W. Bush for president, and he remains the highest ranking government official in American history to call for an end to the racist, unsuccessful, and costly “war on drugs.” Unlike Dr. Paul, Johnson also supports increased legal immigration rather than focusing on harsher border enforcement.

The American libertarian movement draws on multiple and occasionally even contradictory philosophical, cultural, and political traditions. While Dr. Paul has greatly swelled the ranks of political active libertarians and created new organizations to channel our energy, he still represents only part of the larger movement. Johnson’s return to the American political arena for the first time since he was term-limited out of office in 2003 will give the public another figure to associate with the ideas of liberty, one who cannot be so easily ignored.

Of course, part of the problem libertarianism faces will not be solved by having more nationally known libertarian figures, and that is that many people, probably including some reading this column, do not fully understand what the philosophy is all about. Johnson’s communication style will also help here, as he gave the simplest and most effective summary of libertarian beliefs I have yet heard: “I want to empower you to do your thing.” I only hope that we can hear that message from more and more new voices in the coming years.

by Andrew Marshall
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No – Congress should not pass the Freedom of Choice Act

Posted on 31 March 2009 by Jason Ardanowski

Although the Freedom of Choice Act has not even been introduced to the 111th Congress, it has drawn significant attention from the pro-life community. Every pro-life activist in this country knows that if the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) is introduced, it or a similar version of the bill will only be stopped with a filibuster. And since Republican Senators Snow, Specter and Collins like to ally themselves with left-wing politicians, a filibuster is beginning to seem very unlikely.

One would think that pro-abortion advocates would be satisfied with legislation from the Supreme Court. However, the left is organizing itself to make the most sweeping anti-life legislation this country has ever seen under the misleading title of Freedom of Choice Act.

Presently, abortion is, in a certain sense, a choice on the federal level. If a woman wants to have an abortion, the federal government says go ahead but take care of it yourself. But FOCA is a mandate of support for abortion from the federal government. Tax-payers will now be forced to pay for abortions with their own hard-earned money. I always thought that freedom of choice meant you did not have to categorically give support to a decision you disagreed with. Then again, I am old-fashioned.

But this bill gets even more dangerous. Interference is eliminated. This has the potential to prevent parents from counseling minors as to what is the best decision to make, even though the purpose of parents is to help children make good decisions. Moreover, the government would not even be able to make informed consent laws. If neither parents nor the government can help an individual decide whether or not to have an abortion, who is supposed to help the woman make the right decision?
Yet this bill gets even worse. Currently, physicians and hospitals are not required to conduct abortions if they have a conscientious objection. However, FOCA aims at eliminating this also. Catholic hospitals and physicians may be forced to perform abortions even though Canon Law clearly states that procuring a successful abortion results in automatic excommunication.

Apparently, if you are a pregnant woman, you have every right to abort your child and every right to force someone to help you do it. But if you are a faithful Catholic, you do not have the right to follow your conscience and spare the child.
Finally, the bill allows for partial-birth abortion to be allowed once again.

If you thought this bill could not get any worse, you were wrong. Partial-birth abortion borders on infanticide. This could lead to the outright murder of children who are in fact born. For those who think this is merely a joke and has no possibility of happening, I would like to inform them that President Obama, while serving in the Illinois state legislature, effectively voted in favor of infanticide. Oddly enough, even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voted against this bill in the United States Senate.
If there was ever a time for pro-life activists to panic, it is now. FOCA is the single most comprehensive, pro-abortion legislation this country might ever see. It could stick a dagger in the very heart of the pro-life movement.

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Yes – Congress should pass the Freedom of Choice Act

Posted on 31 March 2009 by Warrior Staff

There is much debate among those in Middle America about the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). This act prohibits any legislative body from interfering with a woman’s right to reproductive freedom.  The proposals set forth in the Freedom of Choice Act would guarantee the right to choose for all women in America, no matter who may occupy the White House or control the Legislature.

The right to choose is a fundamental part of the American concept of freedom, and protecting women’s rights is as important to uphold in our courts and legislatures as was the idea that a person of color was more valuable than 3/5 of a person. The principle is the same: a woman, a minority, must have the same rights under the law if we are to stand on our platform as a nation of character and a community of character.

The various provisions of the Freedom of Choice Act can be debated – viability, parental consent etc – but let us not kid ourselves; the fundamental issue at hand is much more simple, it is a debate about abortion, it is a debate about life itself.  The right to choose is a right afforded to women by the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.  Since 1973, it has been repeatedly attacked and undermined by the anti-choice movement.  But the fact is, it is within no one’s rights to impose their own values on another person; it is within no one’s rights to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body. The greatest thing about our nation is that it is a place of extraordinary freedom. If those freedoms are undermined by the elected representatives or appointed members of the judiciary, then America loses something; its position as a beacon of freedom dims and it is Congress’ right, not to say duty, to guarantee these rights for posterity.

Underlying the divisive and complex debate surrounding the right to choose is the idea that any one person has the judgment and the wisdom to determine such issues as when a life begins, and can make these judgments with such absolute certainty that they are willing to impose their beliefs on millions of others.  The facts are simple, where abortion is illegal, women still obtain abortions.  However they do so in a black market, unsafe environment, and are subject to imprisonment for exercising their judgment about whether or not they want to use their body to house a fetus for nine months.  Forcing abortion out of mainstream America merely forces women into potentially hazardous situations – situations they should never have to face while the technology and the ability to protect their rights as a nation exists.

The Freedom of Choice Act is just the latest installment of the pro-choice movement to ensure the fundamentally equitable treatment of women and the protection of their rights to choose. There is no provision in the constitution that gives anyone the right to impose their values on others; as a matter of fact, this nation came into existence based on the principle that no one can do that.  We call it the Freedom of Religion and it ensures that anyone can believe anything they choose. The far-right idea that the founding fathers only meant this to include values that jived with their Judeo-Christian values is ludicrous, and the idea that the religious movement’s values, while certainly valid, should be imposed on those of differing opinions is equally ludicrous. They have no right to tell a woman what she can do with her body, they have no right to tell a couple that they cannot marry because it differs from the practices of their beliefs and they have no right to base our laws off of their sacred scriptures. If we allowed this to happen, there would be community stoning for dishonoring the Sabbath.

America is a place where all are welcome.  No one is passing a bill that forces a woman to perform or receive an abortion, FOCA simply gives her the choice to do so. If her values and beliefs differ from others on this matter, that’s fine – it’s perfectly fine to disagree, it is not okay to undermine another’s beliefs simply because they do not agree with our own. That’s the issue here.  It isn’t this bill in particular, it isn’t about any of its particular provisions, but it is about protecting the fundamental values of our country – the values that have created the most free and open society on earth, the values that permit these differences to be openly debated and for no one side’s opinions to be forced upon others.  It is these values that have created a government for ALL the people who live in this great nation, not simply the far right or far left. It is these vary values that inherently protect the rights of the minority and it is these values that are at stake today.

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Stimulus: A missed opportunity for Obama

Posted on 31 March 2009 by Nick Preston

When Barack Obama signed into law the largest spending bill in United States history, and by default the history of the world, many heralded it a great political achievement for his fledgling administration.  Scarcely months into his presidency, Democrats, with Obama at the wheel, were able to drive through both the House and Senate, and ultimately back through the House again, the $789 billion stimulus with relative ease. However, those that applauded the President also failed to see what is painfully obvious: that this bill will go down in history as one of the most partisan pieces of legislation ever.

With large democratic majorities in both the House and Senate, Republicans never posed any real threat to the passage of the stimulus and thus the survival of the bill never depended on more than a few Republican senators for survival. Nevertheless, the fact that not one of the 178 Republican representatives was wooed over to the bandwagon could prove to be a big missed opportunity for the President.

Without a doubt, President Obama possesses an unprecedented amount of support and approval from the public and can seemingly do no wrong in the eyes of many.  If anyone could have reached out in the spirit of bipartisanship, it would have been the President. Unfortunately, rather than live up to his campaign promises, Mr. Obama chose idealism over pragmatism and caved to every ideological whim of the far left in congress.

What is even more unfortunate for the President is that even a few small concessions, such as more money devoted to infrastructure (which the President himself seemed to prioritize during his campaign) could have convinced a few Republican representatives to vote for the bill.

With all his hopeless rhetoric in the past few weeks, the President seemed to have made it his goal to convince the public that the economy is deeply entrenched in a horrible recession.  If this is the case, and I don’t doubt that it isn’t after listening to the President, it would not matter if the stimulus was passed this past week or next month, and more time could have been taken to modify the bill and make it more palatable to those on the other side of the isle (and more importantly, to more than 51 percent of Americans).  The President seemed to have put quantity over quality when he said “not to make the perfect the enemy of the good,” while possessing the time, power and support, to make this bill more perfect instead of just good.

This is a hard time for many Americans and no one doubts the need to do something about the economy.  Republicans are not just being obstructionists or sore losers, they don’t want to see this bill fail as recessions are apolitical and affect Republicans and Democrats alike. With so much at stake, it is in everyone’s interest that the stimulus works, and simply slowing down and hearing what others have to say can only ensure that the best measures are taken to restore the American economy. The fact is that should this bill fail absolutely, or even partially, Democrats will have no one to share the blame with or the “I told you so’s” from Republicans.

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Republicrats Parties are polarized, but not mainstream America

Posted on 06 November 2008 by Austin Wozniak

The rancor and bitterness reflected in modern politics between the two parties is astounding. The differences between the far right and far left are radical and huge, and never have they been more apparent. However, the mainstream population, both to the left and right of the center, gets along just fine with one another. This is because 80 percent of Americans’ differences are not all that great. They look for common results; their differences lie in how they go about getting those results and in their priorities. It is the choices in candidates and parties that are polar opposites from one another; the general population is centrist.

More than 40 percent of young Americans identify themselves as independent, according to several recent polls. The traditional voting along party lines seems to be ending with the current generation as new voters are disenchanted with partisan politics and the extreme prejudice between the opposing parties. This trend began in 1992 when Centrist Independent candidate Ross Perot garnered 19 percent of the votes for President. Since then, Independent voters, or ‘swing’ voters, have determined the Presidential winner. This has always been the case, but instead of having 90 percent of the population voting along party lines and the middle 10 percent voting independently, the number of voters in the middle is ballooning.

Independent voters are traditionally more conservative in regards to foreign affairs and tend to be progressive on social and domestic affairs, meaning both John McCain and Barack Obama appeal to these centrists. I suggest to you that it is no accident the winners of the primaries were the candidates who were perceived as crossing party lines and avoiding party politics. To independents, McCain is appealing on foreign issues, and Obama on domestic issues. Additionally, Independents also almost universally tend to view the Bush Administration negatively – as a series of squandered opportunities at best and an outright failure at worst.

The growing disdain and borderline hatred exhibited on both sides of the aisle is turning off many voters to the political parties, but the system provides them with no third option to express their dislike for the status quo. Perhaps the best example of partisan rancor is the treatment George Bush has received over the last eight years. It is not necessary to agree with or like someone to show them respect, and any President, as a holder of that office, is entitled to more respect than has been shown Mr. Bush.
Partisan politics is not a bad thing. The country was founded as a two party system and it ensures that both the majority and the minority have a voice in Congress. To those who more often than not find themselves on the side of the minority, this is a comforting fact. Today however, partisanship seems to have taken precedence over progress. Judicial nominations are stalled for years at a time which overburdens the courts and the policy initiatives of one party are attacked at any cost and for any reason by those across the aisle. The Founding Fathers created a two party system to ensure there was no tyranny of the majority, but they did not intend for differences to stand in the way of governing in general. Washington is out of touch with America in this regard – only those on the political extremes support the polarity currently seen in Washington. Those in the center find themselves annoyed with the constant posturing, frustrated with governments’ inability to enact real policies due to their bickering, and are searching for a third option.

The Centrist “Republicrats” have similar goals and common values, while differences exist, they are not so great that they cannot be overcome with concessions and a concerted effort to work together. Neither party seems to understand this; instead they choose to blame the opposition for all failings. America is indeed ready for change, but not to the left and not to the right. No matter what party controls the White House and Congress in the years to come, they would do well to remember that their mission in Washington is to make progress, not blame the opposition for the lack thereof. The next President initially won his party’s nomination by pledging to cross party lines and has a real opportunity to help put a stop to the rancor in Washington. That’s the change America is looking for, and that is the type of change America needs.

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A “robust” lobbying institution Lobbyists petition for Marquette’s interests on all levels of government

Posted on 09 October 2008 by Joseph Clark

As many civic-minded students deride “special interests,” few realize Marquette employs lobbyists to petition on behalf of financial aid and other student interests.
Steven Schultz, manager of Marquette’s governmental and community affairs, said Marquette has “one of the more robust” lobbying institutions. It employs three lobbyists and six undergraduate employees, many veterans of the Les Aspin Center for Government, though some Jesuit institutions have counterparts, many under the umbrella of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.

The Office of Public Affairs petitions for Marquette’s interests on all levels of government from local to federal. It is directed by the University Leadership Council, which determines the direction and policy of the office’s activities, and on which legislation it lobbies.

Given both presidential candidates’ tough rhetoric on “special interests,” Schultz said it would be interesting to see how lobbying on Capitol Hill could change.
“We believe it is not only lawful, but very ethical and moral as well. We have always looked at what will effect the institution and the public, and the way to connect [our work] with the interest of the public,” said Schultz.

“In any profession, some people will abuse their position. We think of [lobbying] as advocacy. That’s a little bit of semantics, I know,” said Schultz.
“Part of lobbying not spoken about outside DC is that lobbyists are a resource for government. We field phone calls asking us if we have a faculty member who could talk about this or that bill. It’s a two-way street,” said Schultz.

The most recent federal legislation which Marquette lobbied for was the 14th renewal of the Higher Education Act, which provides and sets the guidelines for student financial aid. Included in the newest bill was language lobbied by Marquette which “directs accrediting organizations to account for the unique aspects of diverse mission statements in the process,” said Schultz.
Schultz said there has been concern about the retention and prominence of mission statements as an issue of identity retention.

“In our case, and that of other AJCU members, it is a Catholic, Jesuit identity… We believe that it is not in the best interest of anyone to eliminate the diverse missions of colleges and universities through intervention by accreditation agencies or to otherwise have such agencies oversee mission statements of institutions,” Schultz said.

Since Marquette had not yet been frustrated by lack of recognition of its mission, petitioning on behalf of mission-recognizing language in the bill “was preemptive rather than responsive,” Schultz said.

Schultz said there were some provisions of the legislation “[we] wished would have turned out differently.”

“The fear is that the new reporting requirements will create new administrative costs for institutions,” said Schultz. He said new reporting mechanisms for the publication of tuition prices could be run through a government “calculator” that, if done incorrectly, could mislead prospective students and their families as to the real costs of tuition.

The renewed bill also authorizes Pell Grants, need-based financial aids for undergraduate and some graduate students, and streamlines Federal Student Aid applications. Vice President of Public Affairs Rana Altenberg said the Office was funded through the university’s annual operating budget without giving an exact figure. According to the Marquette University 2007 Presidential Report, the university spent $1.095 million dollars on “public service” that year.  

According to the watchdog site Open Secrets, Marquette has currently spent $80,000 lobbying budget and appropriation and taxing issues in the United States Senate in 2008. In 2006 and 2007, Marquette spent $120,000 on federal lobbying.

Public Affairs also lends support to local organizations by connecting them with interns and volunteers from service learning projects, said Jane Moberly, executive director of the Avenue West Association, a tax-exempt organization dedicated to achieving improvement in the neighborhoods between I-43 and 27th St. The organization works to enable owner occupancy, improving business prospects and beautification of much of the area surrounding campus.

Most recently, the Association worked with Marquette last semester on a project to request Milwaukee for a median from 16th to 13th St on Wells St. Public Affairs coordinated meetings between the Association and Marquette Student Government, who had advanced the project, provided traffic counts from Public Works, and made expertise and technical skills accessible, said Moberly.

At the most local level, Public Affairs coordinates many events to engage students in political and community life, such as many of higher-profile speakers and ascertaining their appearance is within ethical and legal limits, the election-year Way Forward panel discussions and non-partisan voter drives.

“Marquette is a non-profit organization. Not many people know that,” said Schultz. Consequentially, the university cannot take political positions, least of all Public Affairs.

“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but we do not give favor to one party or candidate over another…We have to go out and work with all parties on both sides of the aisle,” said Schultz.
The October 2 edition of The Marquette Tribune reported that the Office of Public Affairs was lobbying for exemptions for college campuses for Wisconsin’s concealed carry laws. When asked why Marquette’s stance on the issue was not mentioned in preliminary interviews for this piece, Schultz said he did not say anything about it because the last bill before the Wisconsin legislature on the subject was presented in 2005, and no legislation on the issue is currently pending.

When asked about what protocol student employees of Public Affairs must go through to speak with student media, in an email exchange Altenberg said, “I speak for the Office of Public Affairs. If you have questions regarding the students in my office, please direct them to me.”

Altenberg also said all questions for a part-time advisor to the Vice President of Public Affairs should be directed to her.

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Charging towards change: progressive student campaigning at Marquette

Posted on 10 September 2008 by Katelyn Ferral

As this fall’s political gramophone endlessly plays the “Change” track on both sides of the aisle, Marquette’s political groups march along—in more ways than one.

This election’s favorite buzzword is more than a platform policy—it’s a new approach to campaigning that both the McCain and Obama campaigns have embraced. Both parties have utilized unprecedented technology to reach voters, and despite that similarity, the national Obama and McCain campaign counterparts at Marquette have taken very different approaches to reach students.



On the right, Students for McCain is focused primarily on attending off-campus events to spread McCain’s message to Marquette, and the surrounding Milwaukee community. “Campaigning is our main priority this year,” said Matt Dambach, Arts and Sciences senior and chair of Students for McCain at Marquette. “We distribute campaign literature, and hold weekly gatherings making phone calls at the McCain Victory Center in West Allis.”

Students for McCain has yet to bring speakers to campus or host election events at Marquette, but Dambach says he doesn’t think the group is lacking in presence. “It’s nice to have speakers, but especially in the next two months we think it’s a more beneficial use of time to reach voters, there will always be an opportunity to bring speakers in. We think it’s better to just go out and support McCain,” Dambach said.

Instead of looking to counter or compete with Students for Obama, Dambach said his group plans to solely focus on McCain. The organization currently works closely with Marquette College Republicans, and College Republicans chair Justin Phillips said the relationship between the two is evolving. “Right now there is a mix between the groups, though we hope that the roles of both organizations will be more distinct in the near future,” said Phillips. “One of the things we’ve talked about for the organizations was MUCRs handling off campus events and volunteer activities while Students for McCain handles more on campus things.”

Phillips said finding volunteers is one of the biggest challenges for the conservative cause at Marquette. “I have no doubt that MUCRs will be able to get people to volunteer once they find out that it is more fun than they realize,” said Phillips. “The other problem is the fact that being in both an urban setting and in a college campus, we’re fighting an uphill battle.”

The technological progressiveness of the national Obama campaign is also a challenge for those with the McCain camp locally. Dambach admits that the McCain campaign is behind technologically, but says it is debatable how many more young voters McCain could get with a more technologically based campaign. “I think it is well known that the Obama campaign was and still is aggressive with new technologies,” Dambach said. “However it should be noted that technological campaigning works well with younger voters and it is commonly known that younger voters tend to be more liberal.”

Dambach said that Facebook is one of his biggest tools, but he feels the most effective campaign results from a balance between technology and personal interaction. “Obviously campaigns are becoming more technologically based and as a result it is my job to make sure that Students for McCain keeps up with that,” said Dambach. “One of the key tools of this is Facebook and it is used, but at the same time I feel the most effective campaign tactics are face to face or at least over the phone where you can actually hear a human voice.”


Bringing an excitement to the election and registering students to vote is the main concern for Marquette’s College Democrats. Former chair of Marquette’s College Democrats and now State chair of Wisconsin College Democrats, Arts and Sciences senior Jason Rae says that because political involvement is often weaker with students, campaigning at Marquette can be a challenge. “We want to show that students can make a difference,” Rae said. “ The more students who vote, the more votes go to Barack Obama because of his message of hope and issues related to education, healthcare and many others that so widely affect students.”

Like their political counterparts, Marquette’s College Democrats also work closely with Students for Obama, however both groups are committed to maintaining a distinct focus in each respective organization.

“I work very hard, as does the chair of Students for Obama to ensure that campaign issues do not get muddled in with issues being addressed by College Democrats alone,” said Rae. “We understand that not everyone wants to be 100 percentfocused on the campaign all the time. Therefore, we are organizing some events unrelated to the election, such as issue forums and volunteer opportunities.”

Current chair of Marquette’s College Democrats, Arts and Sciences senior Kirsten Jones, said the election is the organization’s main concern this year, with special attention given to registering students to vote—as seen with the group’s registration rally with Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, U.S. Representative Gwen Moore and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett last week. “Democrats at Marquette are going to be taking an important, active role this fall in registering new voters and educating them about the important issues at stake in this election,” Jones said. “The person we are voting for in November is not simply going to be deciding policy for the next four years, but will be deciding policy for the next two or three decades. As such, it is so important for students to see the difference.”


Reaching the middle of the road and politically unaware students remain a challenge for both campus political groups. Despite a larger youth voter turnout in recent elections, Marquette Students for McCain and Students for Obama are working to reach even the most disinterested students. “We are working to extend our base of support to students who may have never been politically active before,” Jason Rae said. “We are simply building on that message by raising awareness of the issues, having guest speakers who students can get excited about (such as Howard Dean last week), and encouraging students to get out the vote.”

The fact that students typically tend to be liberal doesn’t frustrate Phillips, who said that CR’s could do a good job of having a strong campus presence. “The only reason Obama is the nominee is because he won urban areas and college campuses. We need to make people realize that the only candidate that will bring positive change to this country is John McCain,” Phillips said. “We’re specifically focusing on volunteer opportunities like phone banks and lit drops that get students out into communities for various candidates.”

Despite efforts to expand to students not involved in politics, Arts and Sciences junior Catie Uggeri said she never sees advertisements for political events and doesn’t feel informed about the political atmosphere on campus. “I never see posters for political events where I take classes in the Chemistry building,” Uggeri said. “ I think they [College Republicans and College Democrats] do a very poor job of bringing in uninformed students who don’t know a lot about politics.”

Uggeri said those who don’t have a basic framework of political knowledge find it difficult to get involved. “Maybe I should go and experience a meeting or political event, but I have this notion that it would be way over my head and I wouldn’t be able to follow it,” she said. “Unless it affects you directly or unless you can see how it affects you, I just lose interest, because it no longer pertains to me or what I spend my time doing.”

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An active political scene encourages student involvement

Posted on 20 August 2008 by Daniel Suhr

For the next several months, living in a battleground state will be an absolute thrill.

For the political junkie, nothing is more fun that living in a battleground state in a presidential election season. In 2004, Wisconsin was decided by less than one percent of the vote, and early polling data show this election is going to be just as close.

Because we’re a purple state, both the Obama and McCain campaigns are going to commit significant resources to winning Wisconsin. The candidates, their wives, their running mates and other surrogates are going to visit constantly. In 2004, students from Marquette got up close and personal with President Bush, Vice President Cheney, First Lady Laura Bush, and other prominent figures. These surrogates include more than just the politicians – Marquette’s College Democrats hosted a visit by the actor Jake Gyllenhall, and Natalie Portman visited the MillerTime pub downtown. Republicans brought in NASCAR racers and Mayor Rudy Guiliani.

These high-profile visitors often come to the Milwaukee area because it is the state’s biggest media market. Sometimes they come directly to campus.
I can remember a phone call from the Bush headquarters in 2004, when I was the head of the Students for Bush group on campus: Daniel – the Bush twins, Jenna and Barbara, are going to visit campus next week. We need you to get the name, social security number, and birth date of the 200 people you’re going to get to attend for the Secret Service to check out. We ended up exceeding our goal for attendance, had a great event, and were very pleased that John Edwards’ daughter drew only 50 people to an event on campus the next week.

All of these visitors come with cameras in tow. Another time we got a call – CNN wants footage of Students for Bush doing a phone bank and campaigning door to door. So on one day’s notice, we pulled together volunteers in a room in the AMU basement with a box of cell phones, and started calling through lists of undecided voters. We only got to meet the producer, but Judy Woodruff did the voice-over narration on the story.
News reporters love “what are the young people thinking” stories, and they’ll often stop random Marquette students walking around campus for a quick interview. This will be especially the case with Barack Obama’s supposed unique appeal to our generation.

And there will be all the other parts of the circus that is a national campaign. TV ads will take over your evening news. There will be volunteers outside Raynor wearing matching t-shirts and passing out quarter-sheets urging you to vote a certain way or to attend a certain rally.

My advice: Dive in. Drink it up. You can meet cool people, make great
memories, and no matter what your political affiliation, fulfill Marquette’s mission to “be the difference.”

*Daniel Suhr is a recent graduate of Marquette’s Law School, and the former chairman of Students for Bush.

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Wanted: politicians with cajones

Posted on 30 April 2008 by Adam Covach

It is time you learned something about politicians: they are a smart breed. Every single one of them, even the ones usually referred to in the media as “idiots.” There is no way a common idiot can master the arts of both double-speak and selective truth telling to such a degree that they can influence the majority of the voters in their respective districts, states, or nations to get elected.

They usually don’t tell you what you need to hear, but instead convey what they want you to hear. These words have the magical ability to stir people up into an absolute flurry of passion that causes voters to open up their wallet or give up their time. However before you follow the battle cries of believable change (with no definite course of action) or join the revolution (what are we revolting against, by the way?), step back and do what most Americans fail to do on a daily basis – think.

In my opinion, two of the most hot button issues that should have been handled ten years ago are those of social security and our country’s health care. We hear promises that they shall be fixed but are given no results. Bias aside, I absolutely applaud President Bush for making an effort to try and fix social security. It does not matter if you appreciate the idea of privatized social security or not, he is the first politician in a long time who gave a concerted effort to reform this ailing system. His proposals caused a national stir with fierce proponents of both sides coming out of the wood work. But in the end, it did not matter. Senators and representatives alike bickered the bill apart and nothing happened.

Health care is in the same boat. Something needs to be done, but the realist in me knows nothing will be accomplished. As long as someone is willing to pay the bills (Uncle Sam or insurance companies), prices will continue to increase. This is great as long as you are either willing to live in poverty or are lucky enough to have full coverage through your job. The only people who get screwed are those who unfortunately fall into neither category.

People see the flaws. And the sad part is, anyone who tries to do anything about them is annihilated by either the media or the opposing party, often unable to win reelection afterwards. This brings me back to my original point of politicians being smart. Most of them know not to come anywhere near these issues if they want to keep their jobs. It is not that they do not have plans or proposals. No, any politician worth his salt has his own ideas for fixing these problems. Rather, these ideas are kept top secret, because they are waiting.“For what?” you might ask. It is simple really – for something to break. In this world, timing is everything. The day social security collapses, AARP and our generation will be willing to do pretty much anything to save the system. When it costs over a thousand dollars for a physical, socialized health care suddenly does not sound so bad, even if we all know it is a giant mistake.

This electoral season, don’t get carried away by rhetoric. Look for the few gems who will stand for what they believe in, even if they know it is hopeless. To President Bush, for standing by his social security plan, policies on Iraq and tax breaks, I salute you. To Ted Kennedy and John McCain for proposing a viable solution to immigration, I give you applause. Pray this electoral season God gives us brave men and women willing to take chances like these men have in the past few years, even if it is a long shot. Only then will true change occur.

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My alternative lifestyle: College conservative

Posted on 16 April 2008 by Robert Fafinski

Iggy Pop, in his satirical song, “I’m a Conservative,” jokingly sang, “Conservatism ain’t no easy job.” And, on college campuses, he’s right. Being a conservative ain’t easy. Clearly, in my four years here at Marquette I’ve been out of the closet as a conservative. But, this “alternative lifestyle” I chose to engage in remains a mystery to some. So here’s a list of the basic reasons why I’m a conservative and you should be, too, even if it’s unpopular in academia’s culture of intolerance.

Freedom. As human beings, we are not entitled to things granted to us by a benevolent government. Instead, we are endowed by God with certain rights that the government cannot usurp. A liberal believes he can force something he deems to be good on people, but that necessitates stealing other’s freedom. As Barry Goldwater said, “A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away.” So when you hear politicians promising things — from “free” health care to “free” college education — be skeptical. Most likely they are trying to buy votes with other people’s money to gain power and limit freedom.

Government isn’t good at “fixing” problems. I think Americans are largely a capable and caring people, sufficiently able to respond to the dire needs of the poor without involuntary compulsion. When government acts to “help” people, there are most often negative side effects. It’s a fact that we conservatives donate more money to charity than liberals. Conservatives see a societal ill and strive to fix it in the manner we see fit. Liberals may have the same endgoal in mind, but go about it through the government – that is, with others’ money.

The free market. I believe that each person is different, possessing unique strengths. The free market respects this diversity. Trying to pigeonhole a person is an assault on human dignity. This respect for diversity is best seen in the free market.

Fiscal Responsibility. Taxes are not good and should be low. When someone earns a dollar, it’s his. There needs to be a compelling reason to take a portion of it. High taxes are an assault on human dignity. They lower the value of hard work. Government can take a certain percentage of a person’s income. But, in order to be fair, it must be the same rate for all. Raising taxes on the “rich” will always score political points—no one sees himself as rich. But when politicians raise taxes disproportionately on the rich through the guise of the “common good,” it is no different than masked horsemen stealing from who they deem to be “too rich.”

Respect for the Second Amendment…Enjoying guns is one thing we can all understand. Something that liberals rarely understand is the role of firearms against tyrannical government. Firearms serve as our last defense against tyrannical governments. Without this basic understanding, there would be no United States. Raising arms against the British ensured the freedoms we now enjoy. This option must always be on the table. Goldwater, again: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.”

Free trade. Since the world is extremely diverse and good lies everywhere on the globe, liberalizing markets is key in providing a plethora of goods and services to all people of the world. It lowers prices, increases choice and creates wealth, which subsequently begets more wealth.

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