Harvard Republican Club President Colin J. Motley ’10 addresses new and old members during the club’s first meeting of the year.
Though Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin recently mocked Barack Obama’s time as a community organizer, last night’s speakers at the Harvard Republican Club meeting encouraged students to get involved with local communities.
Putting aside questions of partisanship, Jamie Bush, cousin of George W. Bush, and Democratic Reverend Hurman Hamilton spoke in Adams House Upper Common Room about their experiences in community work and provided insight into the state of poverty and urban issues in America.
“You can be involved in a million different things on campus and beyond and you’ll meet tons of interesting people,” Bush said. “Or, you could only do half of these things and in the other time build in a relationship with a young child in East Cambridge or Roxbury.”
Bush urged students to find opportunities for volunteering rather than focus solely on pursuing a profitable career.
He further spoke about the Republican Party’s failure to excite Americans about the Bush administration’s work in combating AIDS in Africa and in supporting minority home ownership and faith-based poverty initiatives.
“The Party has completely lost its way and, like most people in my generation, has become so focused on power for power’s sake, re-election for re-election’s sake, that it has collectively forgotten that our government is of the people, by the people, and for the people,” Bush said.
Republican Club President Colin J. Motley ’10 echoed Bush’s frustration with existing perceptions about his party.
“Poverty and urban issues are often mis-characterized as issues that the Republican Party is not interested in,” he said. “We are committed to poverty reduction and urban issues.”
Reverend Hamilton followed Bush’s speech with a discussion about his experiences as a pastor at the Roxbury Presbyterian Church and, like Bush, emphasized the importance of engaging the poor and building community relationships.
Hamilton praised the bipartisan nature of last night’s event and highlighted the need to work together across political and racial lines against poverty.
“The call of the poor is potentially a contemporary common good that if seen correctly, could move us beyond our narrow interests into uncommon unity,” he said.
At the same time, the meeting did not completely ignore the upcoming election.
Motley also took the opportunity to discuss the club’s upcoming fall events designed to aid John McCain’s presidential campaign and to excite new members about the Harvard political scene.
“Look around and see. There are other Republicans at Harvard,” he said. “You don’t have to feel at siege.”
—Staff writer Peter Zhu can be reached at email@example.com.