Dukakis Tells Pre-Frosh to Enter politics
With the Cold War over, now is the time for young people to enter politics, 1988 Democratic Presidential Nominee Michael Dukakis told a predominantly pre-frosh audience Saturday morning.
Approximately 200 undergraduates and visiting high school seniors filled Harvard Hall 104 to listen to the former Massachusetts governor.
Dukakis emphasized that a decreased nuclear threat and less military spending have made it easier for students who enter politics to focus on improving society.
"I'm not suggesting to you that politics is the only way [to help people]... but it's the best way, the most direct way," he said.
While a student in the audience expressed concern that becoming involved in politics might cause an individual to become disillusioned, Dukakis provided a measure of reassurance.
"The more time I spent in public life, the more idealistic I got because I saw that a lot of good people working together can make a difference," Dukakis said.
Dukakis' message reminded at least one pre-frosh that politics does not have to be all about negativity.
"I thought that he did do a good job of portraying that politics is not all about mud-slinging and dirt-throwing, but it really is a group of people who have ideals and want change," said Michael H. Tang of Chicago, III.
Answering student questions, Dukakis said that the Cuba blockade is not the best way to promote democracy, that term limits are undemocratic, and that the California Civil rights Initiative is wrong to roll back affirmative action.
He also cited statistics showing that the working class pays a higher percentage of its income to Social Security and Medicare taxes than does the upper class.
Dukakis' talk was followed by pizza and a debate on "The Legacy of President Reagan" between members of the Harvard-Radcliffe College Democrats (HCD) and the Harvard-Radcliffe Republican Alliance (HRRA).
The debate pitted HRRA member John D. Couriel '00 and President William D.A. Zerhouni '98-'97 against HCD member Erin L. Brinkman '00 and President Eric S. Olney '98.
Zerhouni and Couriel argued that Reagan stabilized the value of the dollar, rolled back government regulations, created more economic opportunity, ended the cold War and restored American morale.
Olney and Brinkman countered, saying that Reagan's policies rolled back civil rights, attacked abortion, refused to deal with the AIDS epidemic and helped the rich at the expense of the poor.
"The Republicans clearly and convincingly dealt with every issue brought up by the Democrats, who failed to do so for any of the issues brought up by the Republicans," said pre-frosh James Carmichael, a New York City resident who said he is a Democrat.
The event was sponsored by the Institute of Politics (IOP).