Goofy Kids at a Knife Fight

GOOFY KIDS AT A KNIFE FIGHT….For some reason, I’ve read many stories over the years about the ruthless shenanigans of the College Republicans. I guess that’s because with alumni like Karl Rove, Jack Abramoff, Lee Atwater, Ralph Reed, and Grover Norquist, they’re just bound to have a lot of stories written about them.

The latest in this genre is Frank Foer’s article in this week’s New Republic about the most recent election for chair of the College Republicans. Long story short, the insurgent candidate lost (again) and the dirty tricks flew fast and furious (as usual). Here is Foer’s concluding paragraph:

A few weeks after the convention, I got in touch with the newly reelected president of College Democrats, Grant Woodard of Grinnell College. For his uncontested race, he said he raised $2,000 ? $198,000 less than Michael Davidson’s estimated take. Unlike the College Republicans, Democratic students are not organized as an independent 527. They reside within the Democratic National Committee and exist largely to supply campaign volunteers. Woodard makes all his calls after 9 p.m., “when I get free cell phone minutes,” he told me. His salary is $75,000 lower than the one Chairman Paul Gourley receives ? that is to say, nonexistent.

The contrast between the two organizations is remarkably vivid. When the liberal Center for American Progress sent a blogger to the CRNC convention, she returned horrified by what she’d witnessed and sentimental about the Democratic operation: “I much prefer our movement with blue jeans, diversity, goofy kids, birkenstocks and good beer (none of that busch light crap). We’ve definitely gotta step up the field based organizing, but let’s make sure we’re enjoying it. And each other.” Considering their current losing streak, Democrats might want to spend more time contemplating the contrast between the two styles of political education. How often do Birkenstocks trod the road to victory? Can you really count on goofy kids in a knife fight?

Personally, I have a fondness for goofy kids, and I’d just as soon the College Democrats not produce alumni along the lines of Abramoff and Atwater. On the other hand, I would like them to produce alumni who go on to play significant roles in liberal politics. Do they?

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