News

The Path to Public Service at SEAS

News

Should Supreme Court Justices Have Term Limits? That ‘Would Be Fine,’ Breyer Says at Harvard IOP Forum

News

Harvard Right to Life Hosts Anti-Abortion Event With Students For Life President

News

Harvard Researchers Debunk Popular Sleep Myths in New Study

News

Journalists Discuss Trump’s Effect on the GOP at Harvard IOP Forum

Dukakis Discusses 1996 Presidential Election

By R. ALAN Leo

In a speech at the Kennedy School yesterday, former Massachusetts governor Michael S. Dukakis said the most important issue facing the 1996 presidential candidates is the decline of economic and political opportunity for the middle and working class.

"The most important domestic challenge [is] what's been happening to the middle and working class over the last 20 years," Dukakis said, addressing a crowd of about 100, most of whom were Harvard Summer School students.

The middle and working classes face upward-spiralling health care and education costs at a time when their real wages are stagnant or falling, Dukakis said.

"Income inequality is the greatest in the industrialized world," Dukakis said, adding that it is also at it highest level in the United States since World War II.

When he was a student at Swarthmore, Dukakis said, student debt was "unheard of." In today's dollars, a year of school cost him about $7,000.

"The cost of college is growing beyond the means of many working families," Dukakis said.

The man credited with the "Massachusetts Miracle" cautioned that there are services beyond the ability of state governments to provide. Employee health care should be required of employers by the federal government, Dukakis argued, because states are afraid that statemandated health care would drive jobs to their neighbors.

"We do not have in this country a very secure safety net for working people," he said.

Dukakis also urged the students present to get involved in politics--"to get serious about participating in our country's democracy."

Dukakis, who himself got his political start as a campaign volunteer, urged his audience: "Get involved, Get into a campaign. Pick a candidate you support and go to work."

Dukakis praised the efficacy of the Christian Coalition, which used a grass-roots campaign style to influence the 1994 presidential election.

Although he disagreed with their ends, Dukakis said the nation's major political parties could learn form the coalition's means.

Dukakis' style swung from lighthearted ("...of course, if I knew anything about presidential politics, I wouldn't be here right now") to earnest counsel to get involved.

Dukakis' one moment of temper materialized when a student asked whether he thought California Governor Pete Wilson would run in the 2000 presidential election.

"I think Governor Wilson is a lousy governor and a poor candidate," he said.

Dukakis, himself a second-generation Greek-American, blasted Wilson for making immigration his main campaign issue.

"Immigration is the best thing that ever happened to California," Dukakis said.

Dukakis also criticized the national media for overplaying poll results and ignoring real campaign issues, but he offered one prediction for the presidential campaign.

"This is not a 20-point race, not a 15-point race," Dukakis said. "This is a six-point race.

"Immigration is the best thing that ever happened to California," Dukakis said.

Dukakis also criticized the national media for overplaying poll results and ignoring real campaign issues, but he offered one prediction for the presidential campaign.

"This is not a 20-point race, not a 15-point race," Dukakis said. "This is a six-point race.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

Tags