Preemptive Strikes On Political Apathy

With the election over, political groups look to keep interest high

For the past two years, the presidential race dominated the time and resources of the Harvard Democrats and the Harvard Republican Club, both which poured their energy into mobilizing the student population.

Now that the champagne has been popped and tears have been shed, the salient question for both clubs is how to remain relevant in light of the presidential campaign’s denouement and the greater political apathy that will certainly follow on campus.

“We’ll talk about November 5th on November 5th” was the prevailing sentiment before the election, said Samuel B. Novey ’11, the spokesman of the Dems. Now, both clubs are busy planning new initiatives.

Jarret A. Zafran ’09, president of the Dems, said that though his club is no longer “devoted to one particular goal, which is an election,” its members will continue to push for more progressive politics on a national scale.

The Dec. 2 run-off election in Georgia between Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss and Democratic challenger Jim Martin will become the new focus of the club, Novey said, with plans for phone banking to be made soon.

Zafran also said the Dems, which is the largest political organization on campus, will focus on promoting the Democratic platform more locally. Activities will include publishing op-eds and engaging in formal debates with their Republican counterparts.

The HRC, the oldest student political organization at Harvard, has its own plan for the future, starting with a “Drown Your Sorrows” Party, according to its president, Colin J. Motley ’10.

“Election losses are always tough, but by no means is the Republican Party dead, nationally or at Harvard,” Motley said.

The HRC president said that the organization has a three-part plan to move forward. Its members will intellectually reassess the state of the Republican party, campaign to support conservative values, and try foster a stronger sense of community among members of the Harvard right.

“We want to make sure our members feel comfortable being Republicans on campus,” Motley said.

The leaders of HRC plan to bring prominent conservative speakers to the campus, such as former Mass. Gov. Paul Cellucci, who was recently hosted at Harvard by the club.

Another perennial issue for the HRC is increasing the presence of the Reserve Officer Training Corps on campus, which Harvard has opposed because of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that bans openly-gay individuals from serving in the military.

Both groups believe they can act in a bipartisan manner now that the election results are in.

“Yesterday was the beginning, not the end,” Novey said.