Wednesday, March 31, 2010

SAFRA Press Conference Call

Yesterday, the College Democrats of America (CDA) hosted a Press Conference Call regarding the passing of the health care reform reconciliation bill, more specifically about the provisions regarding the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA). The call was lead by DNC Chairman Governor Tim Kaine and CDA President Katie Naranjo. If you were unable to make the call, you can listen to what was said at

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Meeting Tomorrow

Hi everybody,
  Welcome back, I hope you all had a nice and restful spring break. We will be having our regularly scheduled meeting tomorrow, 8pm in Dealy 115. We will be discussing the budget, eboard elections, the College Democrats of NY convention and potential speakers we can bring to campus this year. Of course we will be talking about the historic passage of health care reform, what it means and a sneak peak into some of the 2010 elections. In addition there are some great events planned this week that we will be reminding you about such as the USG Inaugural Lecture on Leadership and Government Service lecture that will feature the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency's National Clandestine Service, Michael Sulick, Ph.D. Thursday, March 25th at 7 PM in the Keating 1st. If anything else interesting should come up I will let you know asap, please feel free to contact us as well if you have any questions, otherwise I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow night. Thanks very much, the minutes from the previous meeting are attached.
Best wishes,
Andy Laub
Executive Secretary
College Democrats of Fordham University

Friday, March 12, 2010

Proof Positive of Bipartisanship

I saw something interesting this evening, something that I would not expect. Bipartisanship.

Following the debate we had with the Fordham University College Republicans, a few of our members decided to go out for a bite. As luck would have it, we were walking alongside the CRs. Of course, conversation ensued. We all ended up having some late night pizza together.

Yes, we spoke some politics. But, we also spoke about our plans for after college, classes, the usual stuff. But, regardless, it was all very lighthearted.

I understand that this doesn't really sound all that interesting nor surprising. But, I was reminded about an op-ed that Evan Bayh wrote for the New York Times to explain why he plans on leaving the U.S. Senate. The reason: the partisanship.
While romanticizing the Senate of yore would be a mistake, it was certainly better in my father’s time. My father, Birch Bayh, represented Indiana in the Senate from 1963 to 1981. A progressive, he nonetheless enjoyed many friendships with moderate Republicans and Southern Democrats.

One incident from his career vividly demonstrates how times have changed. In 1968, when my father was running for re-election, Everett Dirksen, the Republican leader, approached him on the Senate floor, put his arm around my dad’s shoulder, and asked what he could do to help. This is unimaginable today.

When I was a boy, members of Congress from both parties, along with their families, would routinely visit our home for dinner or the holidays. This type of social interaction hardly ever happens today and we are the poorer for it. It is much harder to demonize someone when you know his family or have visited his home. Today, members routinely campaign against each other, raise donations against each other and force votes on trivial amendments written solely to provide fodder for the next negative attack ad. It’s difficult to work with members actively plotting your demise.

Any improvement must begin by changing the personal chemistry among senators. More interaction in a non-adversarial atmosphere would help.
What does the Senator propose? Lunch.
Let's start with a simple proposal: why not have a monthly lunch of all 100 senators? Every week, the parties already meet for a caucus lunch. Democrats gather in one room, Republicans in another, and no bipartisan interaction takes place. With a monthly lunch of all senators, we could pick a topic and have each side make a brief presentation followed by questions and answers. Listening to one another, absent the posturing and public talking points, could only promote greater understanding, which is necessary to real progress.
At last week's meeting, this very topic was discussed. In fact, it was suggested that we have a dinner together. I personally was pleased that the suggestion came over so positively.

When we brough Howard Dean to speak back in October, one CR came up to me and we spoke briefly. The CR said, nonshalantly, that neither the CDs nor the CRs hated each other. I feel that that is the case. I'm not saying that the College Republicans and the College Democrats will be having a bon fire and singing "Kumbya" together. What I am saying that the fact that many of the CDs and CRs are friends with one-another let's the other group have a better understanding of the person and not the party.

I have one College Republican friend who one told me how she is constantly taunted for being a Republican. She isn't known by her first name, but simply "Republican." The fact she has disposable cups with stars and stripes on them is proof of her partisanship. When she told me this, I just told her to forget what they have to say and be proud to be a Republican.

Political ideology is a value. What do I mean by that? We all have values. Our friends, family, interests, and religion -they're all values. Of course, our values change: our friends have changed, our interests have changed, and our religious beliefs can change. Change in ourselves, of course, isn't bad; it's just a fact of life. By all that we learn and experience, our values change. There can be this one book we read that changes our stance on a political issue or we see some injustice that makes us second-guess our choices in friends. It's just life.

We all have to see the person and not the party. If we learn the person, we can learn how and why they are how they are today. Furthermore, we can find a common ground. I had a professor that told a real-life parable about how differences lead to fear (and, sometimes, hate): My professor, for whatever reason, had to go buy some peanut butter. He goes to the nearest gas station store and buys some. When he went to the register, the cashier was on a cell phone, speaking Spanish. He felt a little hesitant around the cashier. But, then, he realized a way to 'extend an olive branch.' He asked the cashier what the Spanish word for 'peanut butter' was. He realized that if people see some commonality, the fear (or hatred) they may have diminishes.

If people from both sides of the aisle start to get to know each other, imagine all of the good that could be done. We see how the person became that way and why he or she wishes to achieve a certain goal. Chances are, there would be some commonality between the speaker and the hearer, whether it be schooling, religion, mutual friends, or even a preference in music. One similarity that is learned is one more than there was before.

Why do I think this is significant? I watched the health care summit online a few weeks ago. Any viewer could see that with many of the topics, the two sides agreed. The Democrats, however, extended an olive branch by adding Republican-proposed provisions to the bill like buying insurance from other states. It seemed obvious that the Democrats were hoping that the Republicans would meet them half-way. That never happened. The Republicans, even with the provisions they liked, folded.

If we can have two politician friends (one from each aisle) say Hey, I'll support your bill for x if you'll support my bill for y, we'll have what the framers hoped for: compromise.

In a way, I already see it happening. On Tuesday, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) announced that he would vote for cloture on a jobs bill that he actually opposed. He felt the bill would be harmful to the deficit. So, why did he vote for it? Simply put, he thought that the Senate needs to start getting s*** done. For that, I applaud him. I know that his reasons aren't really bipartisan, but he has been known to be very independent and I predict that this will cause a snowballing effect with future bipartisan legislation.

Maybe it is just me glorifying a situation, but I feel that if College Democrats and College Republicans can have a meal together without getting at each other's throats, we're headed in the right direction.