November 5, 2004

Cornell Reacts to Election Outcome

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This past Wednesday, on a campus where a majority of the faculty and student population are liberal-leaning, disappointment over the election outcome mixed with the enthusiasm of some very happy Bush supporters. Despite this division, the re-election of President Bush has fueled the fire of many political activists on the Cornell faculty and in the student body.

“He pulled something,” said Kenia Knights ’07. Knights said she could not believe that all the voter drives that were aimed at young people did not produce a win for Kerry. She also believed that at Cornell the “get out the vote” drives should have encouraged students to register and vote in their home states and not in Tompkins County, as New York was a guaranteed electoral win for the Democratic candidate.

“Damn my demographic,” said David Gartenberg ’05, citing the lack of young voter turnout in Ohio. “So close too, so close.”

“I’m at least glad that it was a clear decision this time,” said Geoff Rand ’05, a student who described himself as torn between the two candidates. “I’m not sure if a change is 100 percent the right thing for us right now, especially in a time of war.”

Upon learning of Bush’s re-election, Prof. Theodore J. Lowi, the John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions, said, “Given that my own preference was for, quote, ‘anyone but Bush,’ there was this sense of disappointment in the deep pit of my stomach.”

Prof. Richard Schuler, economics, agreed, “I’m somewhat depressed about it. … I just find some really distressing elements in what has been happening in the past four years in the administration.” Schuler went on to state that if he graded Bush on how he ran the economy, he would give Bush a D plus and Kerry not much better.

In reference to Kerry’s loss, Prof. Walter Mebane, government, said, “I am very, very, very unhappy.” Mebane reported that based on conversations he has had with colleagues, he would use the terms “devastated” and “horrified” to describe the general mood of Kerry supporters.

Ross Brann, chair of the department of near eastern studies, said, “As an American citizen, I have some concern about the further erosion of civil liberties.”

All of the professors interviewed did not believe Bush’s re-election would significantly affect their curriculum.

“It doesn’t change my academic schedule,” Lowi said. He explained that his role as a teacher is to be critical and set a higher standard for the government than it can reach.

“I’m out of sorts with anyone in power, that’s our damn job,” he said, explaining that if Kerry had won the election, Lowi would then be pushing third party interests in the government. In agreement with Lowi, Schuler said, “It’s our role to play devil’s advocate.”

“We are going to keep doing what we have been doing,” Brann said. “I’m very pleased that the Cornell student community was very engaged in this election.” As dean of the Alice H. Cook House, Brann spent election night watching news coverage with the student residents.

“I’m happy that the election process was not terribly controversial,” said Mebane, who hosted election night coverage in Sage Hall on Tuesday night.

Mebane said he would continue working to improve the electoral system so that in four years voters will not have to worry about being disenfranchised in what Mebane predicts will be yet another controversial and intense election.

Reactions were varied among the many political student organizations on campus, but all expressed their willingness to keep discussing, questioning and fostering political activism on campus.

“I’m absolutely ecstatic,” said Mike Lepage ’05, chair of the Cornell College Republicans. “Some of my Democratic friends seem like they’re going to jump off the bridge with the results.”

Lepage said that unlike past elections, the Republican campaign concentrated a vast amount of effort on “get out the vote” drives, such as the 72-hour campaign in Ohio. He added, “That’s why turnout was so high among our base, and that’s what made the difference in Ohio and probably [in] Florida as well.”

“I’m sure that most Cornellians are disappointed by President Bush’s re-election, as most young people around this country are,” stated Tim Lim ’06 president of the Cornell Democrats in an e-mail. “Cornell Democrats have and always will be dedicated to making sure that the progressive agenda is advanced … this election has just cemented that drive and we will work harder than ever to make sure that President Bush’s feet are held to the fire.”

“I’ll say this much — it amuses me to see how seriously Cornell’s left is taking this. Even if Bush were as awful as they seem to think, this is hardly an insurmountable tragedy or cause for a ‘Day of Mourning.’ To hear many of them carry on, you get the impression that they think that America has died,” stated Jim Shliferstein ’05, a Sun columnist and president of Cornell Political Coalition, in an e-mail.

“I think it’s very disappointing. I think the Republicans managed to paint themselves as the moral choice and that’s why they won the election,” said John Turrettini grad, president of the Cornell Law Democrats.

“So I’m giving Bush a second chance. Let’s hope he doesn’t flip-flop on the promises he gave on the phone with Kerry and in his victory speech about healing a divided nation and reaching out to voters across the spectrum,” stated Anastasia Uglova ’05, outreach coordinator for the CPC, in an e-mail.

When asked if the CPC’s role would change, Robert Meyers grad, CPC foreign policy executive board co-chair, stated, “Not at all. The CPC is relatively non-partisan and tries to take the role of debate moderator and facilitator. We don’t care who is in power, as long as people are willing to discuss their ideas.”

Archived article by Casey Holmes
Sun Staff Writer