Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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College Democrats face a long winter

When the College Democrats executive board met for the first time after John Kerry’s defeat in the election last week, football was the first order of business.

“We’re playing the College Republicans this Saturday,” events director Stacey Garfinkle told the board. “We are not losing to the Republicans.”

“Can we play tackle?” one board member mused.

With the hype of the 2004 election dissipated, the College Democrats have resorted to planning social events and attracting guest speakers to re-invigorate their disappointed members.

In addition to watching Republican President George W. Bush win re-election last week, Democrats painfully stood by as they lost four seats in both the House of Representatives and Senate.

As pundits have proclaimed a period of soul-searching for the Democrats, GW’s college branch of the party is doing the same.

“We have to be very reflective now,” said Laila Hasan, president of the College Democrats. “It’s time to take stronger positions. We have to keep our members engaged and make sure they realize how far they have come.”

Hasan said the group is already thinking ahead to the 2006 mid-term elections, but added that they will dedicate the rest of the semester to book signings, guest speakers and a football game, which are all designed “to boost morale and peak people’s interest.”

“Just because you lose an election doesn’t mean that your beliefs change. Your values don’t change,” she said.

Sophomore Chris Stavrou of the College Democrats said he is still dedicated to supporting his party and its beliefs.

“If there was an opportunity to volunteer this weekend I would jump at it,” said Stavrou, who traveled to Orlando, Fla., and Cleveland with the group. “People right now are sort of in a state of shock and they need to get back on their feet.”

Freshman Adam Falkof, a College Democrat who has not traveled with the group, said he still plans to stay involved.

“Although I am disappointed by the election, I believe the GW Democrats must work to influence Congress,” he said. “I will continue to remain involved by contacting incoming members of the upcoming Congress.”

He added that he believes College Democrat membership will increase, citing broad left-wing dissatisfaction with Bush.

Christopher Arterton, dean of the Graduate School of Political Management, said politically active college students still have a prominent role in American politics.

“There was a substantial interest in politics by young people this time around,” he said. “If there is some way that College Democrats and College Republicans can keep that interest going and keep people active and interested in politics, then I think that will be to both the good of the Democratic Party and the nation.”

Exit polls showed that if only ballots cast by the 18-to-29 age group counted, Kerry would have beaten Bush by 375 to 163 electoral votes, Arterton said.

As for the Democratic Party as a whole, Arterton said it does not face in insurmountable challenge to win over American voters in the near future.

“The Democrats will need to spend a lot of time nurturing the success that they have achieved in fundraising,” he said. “Making sure that this isn’t just a one-time thing based on anti-Bush sentiment, because they won’t have Bush to kick around in ’06 and ’08.”

Arterton added that the Democrats will likely establish new think tanks and similar research organizations that GW students can take part in.

But some Democrats are still looking back to Nov. 2, wondering what went wrong for the Massachusetts senator.

“He ran a good campaign,” said Chintan Patel, the group’s political affairs director, who brought a life-sized cardboard cutout of Kerry to the College Democrats’ last executive board meeting. “I have no problem having him or a cut-out of any Democrat watch over our meetings.”

As for next Saturday’s football game against the College Republicans, publicity director Willie Desmond had one suggestion for the board: “Bring friends.”

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