Thursday, October 28, 2010

Democrats and Republicans find one more thing to disagree on at the DU campus

As with most college campuses, the University of Denver is a hotbed of political conversation. Two voices in this conversation are the DU Democrats and DU Republicans (an offshoot of College Republicans).

Not surprisingly, the two have differing opinions on pretty much everything. One of the most prominent of these differences is who's vote matters most in the upcoming midterm elections. During the 2008 presidential elections, every news outlet continually declared that the youth vote would change the nation, that the democratic process would be revived by the younger generations. Yet, two years later you hear very little about the twenty somethings poised to bring about the new world order. Surprisingly, Andrew Valle, president of DU Republicans, also seems unconcerned with earning the college vote for Republican candidates (in this case Ken Buck, running for Senate, and Dan Maes, running for Governor of Colorado).

"The youth are less involved this year. I do not encourage participation based on age. It is important for informed citizens to vote, however old they may be. The youth are not a special demographic." In a voice reminiscent of Tom Tancredo, Valle continually repeated the fact that he encourages only "informed" voters to go to the poles.

On the other side, Dillon Doyle, President of DU Democrats, is still optimistic about the power of youth. "Compared to 2008 I feel there is a tangible difference in excitement. However, the circumstances are vastly different. Historically, only 50% of youth that voted in the previous presidential election will vote in a midterm election. Despite those odds, I feel students are reconnection with their experiences in 2008 and I know we're going to do better than 50% this year." Doyle is so excited about the younger generations voting that he even celebrates the Tea Party. "No matter one's partisan preference, I feel that any movement that can get students excited about participating in our democracy is an enviable endeavor."

While Doyle believes the children are the future, Valle believes it's the undecided voters. "In this election the emphasis is on the middle of the voting bloc. Staunch Democrats and Republicans will vote for their respective candidates, regardless of the situation. That leaves the middle, the third parties, unaffiliated voters, left leaning Republicans, right leaning Democrats and undecided."

The two groups' differing views on who's vote is important also effects how they spread their respective messages. Doyle and the DU Democrats focus mainly on attracting University of Denver students to the poles, holding events on campus (on October 21, with less than twenty four hours notice they were able to attract 100 attendees to a speech by Michael Bennett on the Driscoll lawn), have a weekly table on the bridge in the campus student center and "always try to educate voters".

The DU Republicans, on the other hand, focus mainly on getting out the word to the general community. "We put up yard signs for campaigns, make phone calls for candidates, walk the precincts and encourage Republicans to vote, where they are registered. We work independently with campaigns, campaigns are not allowed to coordinate efforts with 527's but they can coordinate volunteers, and that's where we come in."

Both groups do agree that this election is important, emphasizing a need for voters of any generation to vote on platforms instead of party politics. As Valle put it, "those are the voters who can turn around the country this year, people who vote on issues, not party affiliations. They are upset, and on November 2 we will see how motivated they are."

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