Amore liberal friend of mine once told me that her friends didn't understand how she could stand talking to me. After all, I was president of the Republican Club and a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA). What could we possibly have in common?
During my four years here on campus I have run into this mentality quite a bit. Many students at Harvard simply want to fold each segment of the campus away into a nice little box and then hate or praise each box according to their own prejudices. One of the most maligned boxes is "Republicanism," and according to what people say about that box, it should be subtitled "Pandora's."
Republicanism is hardly a monolithic entity. While we try every few years to hammer out a party platform which addresses the important issues, it is hardly necessary for every Republican to agree on every point. In the most recent elections here in Massachusetts, Republicans across the state and in our club actively supported Republicans who were hardly Jesse Helms-type conservatives. Regardless of what differences may exist on certain issues, we all subscribe to a certain core group of beliefs.
But there is a certain minimum standard, a combination of not only fiscal but social values upon which we must agree. Republicans enjoyed so much success in the most recent elections not solely because they oppose higher taxes and more government spending. Social issues such as crime, poverty, abortion and gun control all played a key role in the minds of voters. All are issues upon which conservative policies won.
Despite our allowance for individual opinion and our desire to avoid becoming too narrow, we cannot become too broad. There are those in our party and in our club who seek to so expand our horizons that we are in danger of standing for nothing more than tax cuts. It is essential that we avoid making such a mistake.
The box-makers try to portray Republicans as incapable of compassion. Yet how compassionate is it to create a class of people who are dependent on government aid? What happens to self-respect and pride in oneself when circumstances dictated by the government virtually force you to live in a position only slightly above that of a beggar? This is not compassion; this is lunacy. We Republicans want to create an environment in which welfare is a way out of the cycle of poverty, not a one-way ticket to a life of dependency.
The box-makers say Republicans don't care about minorities because we oppose measures which help them fight injustice. In reality we oppose affirmative action not because we want to oppress minorities, but because it is totally at odds with the spirit of the civil rights movement and the idea of a meritocracy.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did not stand in front of the Lincoln Memorial and demand that 10 percent of all government contracts go to minority firms, or that a company which didn't hire exactly 13 percent of Blacks be sued by the Justice Department. Rather he demanded what was only just and fair under the American system: that he and his children be judged on their merits and not their color. We Republicans believe that a harmonious society cannot be achieved until all Americans are color-blind--in both directions.
The box-makers say that Republicans are pro-life because they don't care about women and wish to return them to June Cleaver status. The Harvard Republican Club, following the Republican National Party Platform, opposes abortion in all but a few circumstances. This is hardly motivated by the desire to keep women "barefoot and pregnant." It comes from a genuine concern about the moral issue raised by the termination each year of 1.1 million pregnancies.
There are many extremely effective forms of birth control available. Why must such a final solution as abortion be used with such frequency? This is not an unreasonable question motivated purely by male chauvinism, but by the concern any American should feel for the future of our nation.
Finally, we come to the real reason the box-makers make their boxes: fear. They fear Republicans because there is one principle upon which we all agree, a basic thread which binds us all. We will not quit. We hold certain principles to be true and we will not stop pursuing them. We will fight. We will debate. We will not stop until this nation addresses its problems in a rational and responsible manner.
As for the box-makers, they can try to define us into a little corner and try to split us apart, but they will fail. They will fail because we are not a party of opposition, as are they; we are builders with a goal and a blueprint. And now that we have Congress, once again it is morning in America.
Bradford P. Campbell '95 is president of the Harvard Republican Club.