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Congratulations to New IOP Director Trey Grayson!

January 7, 2011

The Harvard Republican Club is thrilled to congratulate Harvard alum and Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson for being selected as the next Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University. Mr. Grayson has been a conservative hero for many years and will leave behind an exemplary tenure in Kentucky politics when he moves to Boston this upcoming semester. First elected as KY Secretary of State in 2003, Mr. Grayson was reelected by a 14-point margin in 2007, a year in which Democrats took back control of most of Kentucky’s government. During his tenure, Secretary Grayson led efforts to improve civic education in Kentucky classrooms and established nationally recognized programs in business services, elections, and government innovation. While working on all of these accomplishments, Secretary Grayson also reduced his office operating expenses by 15 percent.

With his remarkable experience and accomplishments, Mr. Grayson is undoubtedly an excellent choice to lead the Institute of Politics. The Harvard Republican Club is very excited to work with him in the future.

Recognize ROTC

December 18, 2010

With this weekend’s repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, the one obstacle that Harvard has used to justify its dishonorable refusal to recognize such an honorable organization as ROTC as been lifted. Originally banned because of hostility towards the military during the Vietnam War, the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps has not been recognized by the university because of the DADT policy over more than the past decade. Following today’s events, President Faust should fulfill her promise to “fully and formally” recognize ROTC upon the repeal of DADT. Regardless of one’s opinion of the DADT policy, every student benefits from the sacrifices made by those honorable individuals who protect our freedom and security through their service in the United States military. ROTC cadets deserve the full support of this university, and the Harvard Republican Club hopes that President Faust and Harvard University will do everything in its power to recognize ROTC immediately and provide as much support to ROTC cadets as it can.

2010…. Almost Over!

December 9, 2010
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Over a month after election day, there the final two races have been decided: Minnesota’s gubernatorial election, and New York’s 1st Congressional District election. In both races, the Democrat (Mark Dayton and Tim Bishop respectively) won narrowly. This means the final tally was:

Senate – GOP +6, House – GOP +63, Governorships – GOP +6

Meanwhile, the Alaska Senate race has been called in favor of Lisa Murkowski, but Joe Miller has filed suit to block her. Down by over 10,000 votes, Miller’s campaign has only challenged 8,000 of Murkowski’s ballots. Given that it is extraordinarily unlikely that Miller will win (and that many of his campaign’s challenges seem frivolous – i.e. spelling/handwriting disputes), I hope that this case is resolved quickly.

With final examinations lurking around the corner, Christmas (and a return to our hometowns!) will soon follow as 2010 winds down.

Of course, I’m not quite done yet… there are 3 gubernatorial elections next year :)

Not to mention the 33 Senate seats, 435 Congressional seats, and the Presidency in 2012…

Preliminary 2012 Senate competitive races:

Connecticut (ID – Lieberman)

Florida (D – Nelson)

Massachusetts (R – Brown)

Michigan (D – Stabenow)

Missouri (D – McCaskill)

Montana (D – Tester)

Nebraska (D – Nelson)

Nevada (R – Ensign)

Ohio (D – Brown)

Pennsylvania (D – Casey)

Virginia (D – Webb)

West Virginia (D – Manchin)

Pence Gives Landmark Speech on the Presidency

December 5, 2010

Conservatives and moderates alike are raving about Mike Pence’s genius speech on the Presidency, given at Hillsdale College on Monday evening. He calls for a Constitutional reading of the Presidency. Perhaps the great Congressman from Indiana would be the best choice for the Oval Office. Below is an excerpt, but its brilliance demands a full read.

“Without proper adherence to the role contemplated in the Constitution for the presidency, the checks and balances in the constitutional plan become weakened. This has been most obvious in recent years when the three branches of government have been subject to the tutelage of a single party. Under either party, presidents have often forgotten that they are intended to restrain the Congress at times, and that the Congress is independent of their desires. And thus fused in unholy unity, the political class has raged forward in a drunken expansion of powers and prerogatives, mistakenly assuming that to exercise power is by default to do good.

Even the simplest among us knows that this is not so. Power is an instrument of fatal consequence. It is confined no more readily than quicksilver, and escapes good intentions as easily as air flows through mesh. Therefore, those who are entrusted with it must educate themselves in self-restraint. A republic — if you can keep it — is about limitation, and for good reason, because we are mortal and our actions are imperfect.

The tragedy of presidential decision is that even with the best choice, some, perhaps many, will be left behind, and some, perhaps many, may die. Because of this, a true statesman lives continuously with what Churchill called “stress of soul.” He may give to Paul, but only because he robs Peter. And that is why you must always be wary of a president who seems to float upon his own greatness. For all greatness is tempered by mortality, every soul is equal, and distinctions among men cannot be owned; they are on loan from God, who takes them back and evens accounts at the end.

It is a tragedy indeed that new generations taking office attribute failures in governance to insufficient power, and seek more of it. In the judiciary this has seldom been better expressed than by Justice Thurgood Marshall’s dictum that, “You do what you think is right and let the law catch up.” In the Congress, it presents itself in massive legislation, acts and codes thousands of pages long and so monstrously over-complicated that no human being can read through them in a lifetime — much less understand them, much less apply them justly to a people that increasingly feel like they are no longer being asked, they are being told. Our nation finds itself in the position of a dog whose duty it is not to ask why, because the “why” is too elevated for his nature, but simply to obey.

America is not a dog, and does not require a “because-I-said-so” jurisprudence to which it is then commanded to catch up, or legislators who knit laws of such insulting complexity that they are heavier than chains; or a president who acts like, speaks like, and is received as a king. The presidency has run off the rails. It begs a new clarity, a new discipline, and a new president.

The president is not our teacher, our tutor, our guide or ruler. He does not command us, we command him. We serve neither him nor his vision. It is not his job or his prerogative to redefine custom, law and beliefs; to appropriate industries; to seize the country, as it were, by the shoulders or by the throat so as to impose by force of theatrical charisma his justice upon 300 million others. It is neither his job nor his prerogative to shift the power of decision away from them, and to him and the acolytes of his choosing.”

Re: Full-Body Scanners – Do They Make Us Safer?

December 2, 2010

The New York Times recently hosted a discussion on the merits of the new full-body scanners and pat-downs administered by the TSA at airports across the nation. Of particular note is a piece by security consultant Bruce Schneier:

Exactly two things have made airplane travel safer since 9/11: reinforcing the cockpit door, and convincing passengers they need to fight back. Everything else has been a waste of money. Add screening of checked bags and airport workers and we’re done. Take all the rest of the money and spend it on investigation and intelligence [.....]

Neither the full-body scanners or the enhanced pat-downs are making anyone safer. They’re more a result of politicians and government appointees capitulating to a public that demands that “something must be done,” even when nothing should be done; and a government bureaucracy that is more concerned about the security of their careers if they fail to secure against the last attack than what happens if they fail anticipate the next one.

In Response to the Editorial on ROTC in The Crimson

November 29, 2010
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When President Drew Faust issued a strongly worded endorsement of the return of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps upon the release of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” I and many other advocates for the return of ROTC were heartened that she gave such an explicit statement on the issue. While I might disagree on whether DADT should be a prerequisite for the return of ROTC, that President Faust gave such a supportive statement is something to be greatly appreciated. This sentiment also aligns with the views of a great number of students on campus. A poll from April 2009 sponsored by the Harvard Republican Club indicated that about 62% of respondents out of 1,700 students indicated support for the return of ROTC. Despite this bipartisan support, ROTC still faces obstacles from within the school, as shown in Wednesday’s editorial in the Crimson by Sandra Korn. While I respect her right to express her opinions in that forum, her piece makes a number of points that I believe are either incorrect or inapplicable to the debate over ROTC at Harvard.

I am grateful that Sandra raised an important part about Harvard’s military history, but unfortunately she did not give it the full attention it deserves. As she mentioned, Harvard University has the most Medal of Honor recipients outside of the military academies, serving in conflicts from the Civil War to the Vietnam War. Both Memorial Hall and Memorial Church commemorate the sacrifices of all of Harvard’s men and women who served, including those who gave their lives. The regimental flag in Annenberg of the 20th Massachusetts Regiment shows that at one point Harvard could furnish enough men to deem it the “Harvard Regiment.” Unfortunately, current levels of participation in ROTC have dropped to a handful, no doubt in part due to Harvard’s unfriendly stance over the last 30 years. In regards to Harvard’s environment, a 2005 Heritage Foundation study of the military’s demographics found that New England in general had only a .73 ratio of recruits to eligible population, significantly lower than any other region’s ratio. While numbers on enlisted soldiers and ROTC participants are not directly comparable, it is clear that there is an unhealthy level of separation between the military and Harvard and its environs. This lack of connection between Harvard and the military leads to misconceptions on both sides and shuts out an important viewpoint that is otherwise present in American society.

Defeating misconceptions is especially important, because unfortunately Sandra in her criticism of ROTC presented a misguided view of the structure and conduct of the military. She conflates regrettable and properly-punished actions at Abu Ghraib by a small number of soldiers with subjects such as private military contractors and foreign aid that have nothing to do with the conduct of officers who would be trained in ROTC. Our military is structured so that the civilian government ultimately has full control. Congress, not ROTC, decides to give military aid to countries, provide funding for private contractors, or engage in wars. While Sandra certainly has the right to criticize Blackwater, American foreign policy, or the overall war strategy of the United States, the civilian-controlled structure of our defense means that she should target her ire over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at President Obama, Secretary Gates, and Congress rather than deprive Harvard students the opportunity to serve within the military. Even her charge of gender discrimination is ironic given the high proportion of Harvard women currently participating in ROTC and the military’s continued efforts to integrate women into more roles, including most recently within submarines.

It is also ironic that Sandra asks that Harvard act in a “socially responsible and just manner” by refusing to recognize ROTC when the military is one of the most important entities for humanitarian aid around the world. The U.S. military’s vast transportation capabilities allow it to deliver aid to disaster-stricken regions around the world and provide security for aid workers. Most recently, the military has helped deliver hundreds of thousands of food and aid packets to Pakistan’s flood-stricken regions. Our military also provides safety to commercial and private boat traffic when passing through areas such as the pirate-infested waters off Somalia. While some may find the U.S. Navy’s commercial slogan, “A Global Force for Good,” a bit simplistic, that is honestly not an unfair description of the military’s vital humanitarian and security roles all over the world. The notion that the military acts “in a manner inconsistent with basic humanitarian principles” is clearly not substantiated by its actions.

I also take issue with Sandra’s echo of the Crimson’s previous opinion that “this University should be in the business of education and not military training,” and her statement that Harvard has no obligation to host ROTC. Frankly, it is somewhat insulting to disparage ROTC by stating that the classes within the program are incompatible with the “business of education.” ROTC’s coursework includes rigorous engineering and strategy classes in the classroom, and outside the classroom, ROTC fosters leadership development. Given how much of an emphasis Harvard currently puts on both engineering and producing leaders, especially in the public sector, the typical ROTC courseload seems to fit perfectly within Harvard’s aims as an institution. The idea that Harvard is somehow ceding authority to the government by allowing ROTC classes is also a specious argument, especially since even fair Harvard must submit occasionally to an accreditation process by a Department of Education-approved accrediting agency. Finally, under the Solomon Amendment, Harvard is in fact obligated to allow military recruiting in some fashion in order to receive federal funding. However, this is not just a question about legal obligation. Sandra is correct in that Harvard’s actions have major repercussions, but unfortunately Harvard’s actions have left a poor impression on itself by failing to give ROTC the proper place it deserves in our university. Perhaps public antagonism against us “brie-eating Ivy Leaguers” would not be so strong if there were not such unfriendly dispositions and actions against the military. President Faust should fulfill her promise to restore ROTC at Harvard and send a strong message throughout both the Ivy League and the nation as a whole that the military is in fact a worthy and noble means for students to serve their country.

-Samuel Coffin, ’14.

A World Without Liberty

November 29, 2010

As evidenced by the hundreds of editorials written in the last few weeks regarding them, the recent “full body scans” and “pat downs” at airports are extremely controversial.  Allegations have already been raised against the TSA for numerous incidents of sexual assault, including the grabbing of a man’s genitalia during a pat down.

With all these new security measures, it’s time for America to face itself and reconsider:  What are we willing to give up in the name of security?  The Republican Party, prides itself on the defense of individual liberties; from gun rights to rights of the unborn, Republicans speak together.  However, we have been remarkably silent on the newest of these issues.

It’s time for the Republican Party to take a stand and inform the American people that they do NOT leave their civil liberties at the entrance to an airport.  Just as in the Supreme Court decision Tinker V. Des Moines, where the Court stated that students do not leave their rights at the schoolhouse gates, American citizens do not leave their civil liberties every time they travel.  We have a right to privacy, as confirmed by the Supreme Court in Griswold V. Connecticut, Roe V. Wade, and the first, fourth, fifth, ninth, and fourteenth amendments.  We cannot afford to give up this right to privacy in the name of security, when these body scans do not provide much more security than the original system did.  After all, intelligence has proven to be a far more viable source for curbing terrorism than any pat down at an airport.

If we are willing to give up our rights in the name of security, we are willing to give up our freedom.  We leave ourselves open to arbitrary oppression under any policy the federal government deems necessary for our security.

President Obama needs to speak up on this issue; for all his talk about the rights of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and the right of Americans to not have their phones wiretapped, he has been remarkably vocal in support of these new measures.

It’s time for President Obama and the Republican Party to take a stand with the ACLU and defend all civil liberties at all times, not only the liberties that are convenient for political leverage.  The fight for our liberties is one fight we cannot afford to lose.

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