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It's My Party

By Kristine M. Zaleskas

I MAY be a Harvard-Radcliffe student, and I may be a Democrat, but I am certainly not a Harvard-Radcliffe Democrat.

Let me explain the difference.

The Democratic Party is a political organization with ideals and aspirations that I share. Famous Democrats include the founder of the New Deal, the leader who prevented war during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the chief of the War on Poverty.

The Harvard-Radcliffe Democrats are a group of students who supposedly share the ideals and aspirations of the Democratic party. Famous Harvard-Radcliffe Democrats include the creator of non-ordered choice.

If the difference is not clear yet, allow me to elaborate. The Harvard-Radcliffe Democrats were the group that who smugly began a letter to Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter '62 (then a nominee) supporting abortion rights as "We intellectuals of Harvard University..." (emphasis added).

As if people at Harvard who do not support abortion rights are not intellectuals. As if people who support abortion rights and do not go to Harvard are not intellectuals. In short, if you do not go to the same school as us and share the same views as us, they seemed to say, you are a cretin.

The problem with this group goes beyond word choice. What's most disturbing--and self-serving--about the Harvard-Radcliffe Democrats is that they don't support Democratic candidates. The club's refusal to back Democratic gubernatorial nominee John Silber is an embarassment to both the Democratic party and the ideals for which it stands.

SOON after their endorsed gubernatorial candidate, Francis X. Bellotti, lost the Democratic primary to John R. Silber, club representatives decided not to endorse Silber in the general election. One member called him "a jerk."

That's not an acceptable response for a group that claims affiliation with the Democratic Party. That affiliation--for it to have any meaning--must be genuine and consistent. It can't just count whenever it suits members' whims.

The Democratic Party aims to be pluralistic and open to all points of view. The fact that the party has lost the last three presidential elections should alarm all party members, even those of us in this "liberal boutique." If candidates like Silber can bring some lost sheep back to the fold, then these efforts should be commended, not condemned.

Moreover, the Democratic voters of the Commonwealth decided on September 18 that they wanted John Silber as their nominee for governor.

ARE Massachusetts voters not "intellectual" enough for the Harvard-Radcliffe Democrats?

If they aren't, then are Ron Brown and Michael Dukakis? The chair of the Democratic National Committee expressed his confidence in Silber's candidacy soon after the primary, and Dukakis last week endorsed Silber unequivocally.

Silber is a vehement opponent of the death penalty. He has said that he respects abortion rights. He has proven experience in budget planning and balancing from his presidency of Boston University.

And, most important, he has been the most outspoken foe of the Citizens for Limited Taxation Referendum which, if passed, would mean absolute destruction for the state. It is a cruel and heartless piece of legislation that would cut programs for the elderly, the homeless, students and the environment, to name only a few examples. (Silber's opponent supports the CLT petition.)

Members of the Harvard-Radcliffe Democrats may leave in four years, but some of us have families in Massachusetts who will be affected by this legislation for the rest of their lives. It is reason enough to vote for Silber.

As for calling Silber a "jerk"--it would be an understatement to say that Silber is often tactless and insulting. I respect everybody's right to a private opinion. But as a representative of the party, referring to the party's nominee in such a way is childish and irresponsible.

The future of this Commonwealth could be decided on November 6. If it were up to the Harvard-Radcliffe Democrats, our state would be on a crash course to chaos.

My only solace is that nobody--except themselves and me--seems to listen to the Harvard-Radcliffe Democrats anyway.

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