Republican Convention polarizes campus


by Kate Paulman

The motley crew of 14, eyes intent on the screen, quickly fallssilent as the moment of truth- or untruth, depending on partyrhetoric- approaches.

Then, the man of the hour takes the stage.

“Oh my God, where’s the puke bag?” said senior JodiFrediksen.

The College Democrats gathered in Station Square to watch, andhurl invectives at, President George W. Bush’s speech at theRepublican National Convention last Thursday.

No election in recent history has brought out the dichotomybetween Republicans and Democrats more clearly than Democratic Sen.John Kerry’s campaign against Bush.

“I put one of those yellow, ‘I support the troops’ ribbons onthe back of my Jimmy,” said senior Alyssa Beaman. “My dad was allexcited because he thought I had finally come over [to theRepublican Party].”

Beaman, along with other members of College Democrats,voraciously defended her party and candidate during the speech.

The party line has been drawn at Simpson College- not in thesand, but in stone.

While Democrats were requesting puke bags or making variousdisparaging remarks at the president’s arrival on stage, SimpsonRepublicans were reportedly cheering and saluting thepresident.

Bush began his speech by accepting the Republican nomination forPresident of the United States.

“When I said those words four years ago,” Bush said, accordingto his remarks prepared for delivery on, “none ofus could have envisioned what these years would bring.”

“No shit,” said senior Michael Schrodt.

The Democrats proceeded to criticize Bush on a number of issues,as well his multimedia presentations.

Voiced over the video montage preceding the speech, a voiceasked, “When we look back at this man, we’ll ask ourselves…”

The rest of the voiced-over statement was drowned out- “…whatwere we thinking?” said senior Erin Gentz, president of CollegeDemocrats.

The Democrats began tally sheets of the number of times Bushmentioned Kerry, 9/11, terrorism and, more importantly, issues.

Senior Josh Brown was in charge of counting actual issuesmentioned during the speech. According to Brown, this wasaccomplished with less than five fingers: the final count wasthree.

However, according to junior Carl Benskin, the College Democratsmust have been watching the wrong speech.

“Well, I don’t know what speech the Dems were watching,” Benskinsaid. “[Bush’s] whole speech was about the president’saccomplishments and his plan. In contrast, John Kerry’s speech washis Vietnam Biography. There were no issues in [Kerry’s]speech.”

Benskin is the liaison between the Iowa Federation of CollegeRepublicans and Simpson College.

The Democrats questioned Bush’s references to President HarryTruman, a Democrat, as a “resolute president” who “held firm in thecause of liberty.”

Benskin said: “[Referring to a Democrat, such as Truman, as agreat president] is not strange. We’re talking about 50 years ago.Truman was a great president. We can acknowledge that…This partyhas said, ‘We have policies and yes, we are Republican, but ifyou’re a Democrat, you can be a great president.’ We just don’tfeel this challenger can lead this country.”

The Democrats were critical of Bush’s frequent mentions ofRonald Reagan.

“We’re not going to look for a cure that could have actuallysaved him or anything, but he was a good American,” freshman BenWilliams said. Williams was referring to Bush’s reluctance to useembryo stem cells in Alzheimer’s research.

Benskin was quick to point out Bush’s progress in stem cellresearch development.

“President Bush is the only president to fund stem cellresearch,” Benskin said. “No president before him has…Bush’spolicy is only stopping the creation of more embryos, but there aremore than enough embryos for scientist[s] to use. Plus, [the]government fully funds adult stem cell research.”

Democrats and Republicans varied greatly in their takes onBush’s policies on education, especially the No Child Left BehindAct.

“The only reason schools are getting better is because the badones are closing up, so nothing’s left but the good schools,”Schrodt said.

Brown agreed, adding that the only way to have all schoolchildren score above average on tests- under Bush’s plan- is tohave a selective system in which not everyone is educated.

“Well, I would hope the failing schools are shut down,” Benskinsaid. “We want our children to be taught by the best teachers andthe best schools, so in effect our children are going to the betterschools and getting a higher level and quality of education. The NoChild Left Behind Act is working.”

As the President began to wrap up, the Democrats turned theirthoughts to one of the major issues of the campaign- which countrymusic group is better to have on your side: Brooks and Dunn or theDixie Chicks?

Williams admitted to having attended a Brooks and Dunn concert,something he said he wouldn’t do now.

Benskin said that Brooks and Dunn was the better group, thoughvoters should not base their decision on celebrityendorsements.

As vehemently both sides defend or critique the candidates, noamount of yelling or applauding TV screens will make a difference.However, Gentz is optimistic after the first meeting of CollegeDemocrats- out of about 16 at the actual meeting, nearly half werefreshmen.

“If our meeting is any indication, this bodes well for theupcoming election and the young voter turnout,” Gentz said.