Love the Enemy

Presidents of Harvard Dems, Republicans shack up

The dragon on his bedroom wall was not the strangest thing Greg M. Schmidt ’06 found in his new apartment this summer. Waking up for the first time in his summer sublet, Schmidt—the current president of the Harvard Democrats—discovered, in his own words, “a little shrine to our 43rd President.”

The “shrine,” which included champagne, White House M&Ms;, photos of Bush, cards, and a Red Bull can adorned with a Republican National Committee (RNC) campaign sticker, belonged to Matthew P. Downer ’07, who currently presides over the Harvard Republican Club. The two presidential roommates were brought together through Government 1352: Campaigns & Elections, which they took together last fall. This summer, they shared a bedroom in a house with five other Harvard students and a sixth subletter they found on Craigslist.

The housemates dubbed their townhouse at 3614 T Street “The Zoo,” but both presidents said bipartisan cohabitation is less volatile than others expected. (Schmidt says his co-workers at the United Food & Commercial Workers Union briefly worried that he was a mole.)

“I think the climax of the summer was when Greg broke down and admitted that John Kerry was a flip-flopper,” said Downer, who spent the summer at the White House Office of Communications. Schmidt denies any admission of the sort. Roommate Jack P. McCambridge ’06 says the Zoo did live up to its name. “When you have Republicans and Democrats trying to live together,” he explained, “there is no accountability. Our kitchen consistently smelled like shit.”

Schmidt interjected, “But the omelets were good!”

As the summer progressed, Downer’s shrine to number 43 was countered by Schmidt’s Democratic paraphernalia. But as a parting gift, Schmidt now possesses a small, RNC candidate-endorsing can of Red Bull.­