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Brandeis students of all political persuasions helped get out the vote in midterm elections

Published: November 5, 2010
Section: News


PHOTO BY Ingrid Schulte/The Hoot

As Republicans won big in the midterm elections Tuesday night, Brandeis students were working hard to help their candidates on either side of the aisle.

Republicans won big Tuesday night in the midterm elections, taking control of the House of Representatives with a gain of more than 60 seats winning six seats to improve their Senate minority and taking numerous gubernatorial races and state legislatures races across the nation.

Republicans were able to relieve Nancy Pelosi of power as speaker of the House, and put in her place John Boehner of Ohio.

Democrats managed to keep control of the Senate despite losing six seats to Republicans, with the bright spot for the ruling party being the widely unexpected triumph of their leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada.

Tuesday night also saw some of the first major national victories for the Tea Party, with favored candidates winning elections in battleground states like Florida and Pennsylvania.

Speaking about the results, Mary-Alice Perdichizzi ’12, the head of the Brandeis Tea Party chapter, described the elections as “a clear victory for conservatism and the Tea Party movement.”

The Tea Party did make significant gains. According to the Associated Press, more than 30 Tea Party members were victorious in the elections.

Among them were Michelle Bachman of Minnesota, who won a seat in the House of Representatives and is running for a House leadership position; Rand Paul, who won a Senate seat in Kentucky; and Marco Rubio, who won a Senate seat in Florida after driving the state’s popular governor, Charlie Christ, from the party.

Despite these victories, the Republicans did not manage to unseat Reid, the majority leader, which surprised Perdichizzi.

“Nationally,” she said, “[I] was surprised by Sharron Angle’s loss to Harry Reid, because although the media had done an effective job of smearing her, Reid’s popularity is still very low.”

She said that the greatest victory was “Kristi Noem’s win in South Dakota. Kristi is the epitome of a conservative small business owner seeking to get government out of the way of American success.”

But the greatest defeat, according to Perdichizzi, who is from Worcester, Mass., was Charlie Baker’s loss to Governor Deval Patrick, which she believes to be “a result of a poor campaign.”

While Perdichizzi is generally pleased with the results, she sees that those who won have a crucial responsibility now.

“The next step of the Tea Party should be to hold the new GOP reps accountable for their actions.”

In her point of view, it is not just about winning the election, but about following through on all of their promises.

With a divided legislature between a still-Democratic Senate and a Republican House of Representatives, it is difficult to say what will result in the form of new legislation.

On the subject of whether or not increased compromise would arise, Perdichizzi stated not only would it, but she believes voters would say it should not.

“I think compromise indicates a half-hearted conviction. Tea Partiers expect the new GOP representatives to hold strong to their convictions and defend them to the American people, instead of compromising their values for political power,” she said.

“So hopefully, there will be [a] decline in compromise and a firmer ground for winning supporters over on the foundations of reason and peaceful debate.”

Perdichizzi summed up the core principle of the Tea Party, one of limiting government’s power, when she spoke of the sentiments of the American people.

“The American people are sick of elitist liberals lecturing them on how they should live their lives, run their businesses and live under a government that does not adhere to the major constitutional role of government—to serve the American people by limiting the scope of its reach.”

With the Tea Party on the rise, it can be easy to forget about more moderate Republicans.

Michael Sklaroff, the head of the Brandeis Libertarian and Conservative Alliance, also was pleased with the election results.

Similar to the Tea Party, he was very pleased with the results.

However, Sklaroff was disappointed with the Republican Party’s inability to unseat Reid.

He also is wary of the future of the Republican Party because of some of the candidates produced in the elections.

“The biggest defeat that I think will manifest itself in the future, is the irreparable harm that certain candidates like Paladino, Angle or O’Donnell will do to the cache of the conservative brand.”

Specifically speaking of the Tea Party, Sklaroff addressed the general attitudes of the Republican party at large to this new political movement, which he views with a certain degree of pessimism.

“I think that Republicans like the grass-roots activism and passion of the Tea Party for the most part, but are weary of their potential naïveté of political realities that can thoroughly compromise the effectiveness of the movement.”

Both Perdichizzi and Sklaroff found that Americans are upset with the government currently. “Most surveys,” he said, “indicate that Americans have a widespread discontent with current agenda of government.”

When asked about his views on the effectiveness of a divided Congress and the possibility of compromise in the future or the lack thereof, he suspended judgment.

“It is far too early to judge an accurate answer to that question; House GOP leadership positions have yet to even be finalized.”

As would be expected, the College Democrats had a different perspective on the elections.

Despite the large Republican gains, Amber Kornreich ’12, the group’s leader, was positive about not only the election, but about what will come in the future as a result.

“Overall, things could have been better, and could have been worse,” Kornreich said.

“Democracy is about the will of the people, and despite the challenges President Obama now faces with a Republican-controlled House,” she said. She was confident he will continue to crusade forward in the direction of equality and health care for all, comprehensive immigration reform and a “greener” future.

Furthermore, Kornreich saw a major failing of the Democratic party to be its inability to effectively get across to the people all of the good that President Obama has done, rather than merely focus on the bad.

In the future she believes “the Democratic Party should aspire to better articulate their successes.

“The shortcomings and failures of the last two years have been widely publicized, but many Democratic victories have been forgotten.

“It is important to recall the economic and political mess President Obama inherited is a result of President Bush and the Republicans’ misguided policies of the last administration.”

Kornreich further said that despite the Republican victories and the control of the House of Representatives, progress of the liberal agenda will continue.

“The Republican Party,” she said, “has proclaimed their intention to reclaim the country” and stop the president and the Democrats from accomplishing their liberal goals.

“I think that the president has a new obstacle to overcome, but that progress can’t be stopped, even by a Republican House. I doubt there will be significantly more compromise, especially as 2012 approaches and the Republicans seek to regain the presidency.”

While she does accept that Americans are struggling now, she maintains that once things improve economically, frustration with government will decline.

“There is no doubt,” said Kornreich, “that Americans are suffering economically. People are frustrated and disappointed and unsure of how to respond. I believe the economy will improve, and with it, the American people will become happier with the federal government.”

The only point of agreement among campus groups was that many students Brandeis took a vested interest in the elections, running phone banks, going door-to-door and simply debating the issues regardless of party.