Students gear up to get out vote

By James Kraft

With Election Day rapidly approaching on November 7, the UCDems are ratcheting up their support for local candidates, while the College Republicans are busy campaigning—for themselves.

Fourth-year Phil Caruso, president of the UCDems, has been organizing volunteers from the U of C. Caruso wants to get out the vote for Representative-elect Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat running in Illinois’s sixth Congressional district, and Representative Melissa Bean, a Democrat up for re-election in Illinois’s eighth.

“It’s very fun to work for a campaign like this,” Caruso said. “The staff are really young, and there’s a lot of energy.”

For three weeks, Duckworth’s team has been busing students out to the western suburbs to campaign door-to-door. This Saturday, more than 25 students will be making the trip again, Caruso said. On Sunday and Monday, they will be off to the eighth district in Chicago’s northern suburbs to campaign for Bean.

Caruso emphasized the importance of active political participation in student life. “We hold a lot of events on campus to educate the kids about the issues, but hands-on experience is really the only way to get a grip on them,” he said.

The upcoming election is far more personal for two members of the College Republicans.

Fourth-year Charlie Kinzer, president of the U of C chapter of the College Republicans, is running for the State Senate in Illinois’s 13th district against Democrat Kwame Raoul. Fellow College Republican and physics graduate student Matthew Szydagis is running for State Senate against Jacqueline Y. Collins in Illinois’s 16th district.

“What happened was, nobody ran in the [Republican] primaries on the South Side,” Kinzer said.

Though Kinzer said he doesn’t expect to win, he feels South Side voters deserve a choice.

“In a certain sense, we’re name-fillers, but it’s important for them to have an alternative,” he said.

Kinzer said the College Republicans have not campaigned for Peter Roskam, the Republican candidate opposing Duckworth, but not because of apathy towards their candidate.

“If I lived out in the suburbs, I wouldn’t want a bunch of college kids coming out and telling me who to vote for,” Kinzer said. “Ultimately, we’re going to let democracy prevail.”

Kinzer said it’s “a positive trend” that people across the country are becoming more involved in politics. Nonetheless, “we’re busy students, and we don’t want to waste people’s time.

“It’s not so much a principle of not sending college kids as it is a principle of using local people,” said Kinzer, noting that the Republican party had a local representative in every precinct for the 2004 presidential election.

The Spartacus Youth Club has also jumped into the campaign, supporting Jeff Mackler, a 66-year-old political activist with the Socialist Action Party running for Senate in California.

“Our critical support for [Mackler] is solely premised upon his campaign’s drawing a crude class line against the capitalist Democrats and Greens,” said fourth-year Tom Discepola, a member of the Spartacus Youth Club.

While the group does not think Mackler will win, its members hope that his appearance on the ballot will make an impression on working-class Californians, Discepola said.

“Our support to him is like that of a rope supporting a hanging man,” he said. “First and foremost, we intend to expose his working class–betraying reformist politics as a concrete obstacle to the struggle for socialist revolution.”