U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) discussed his new book “Take This Job and Ship It” and answered questions from students Monday night.
More than 50 students attended the event, which was hosted by the GW College Democrats at the Elliott School of International Affairs.
Dorgan, a strong proponent of progressive legislation in Congress and Chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, was first elected to the Senate in 1992. He had previously represented North Dakota in the House for six consecutive terms beginning in 1981.
Dorgan’s speech focused on a variety of his most memorable experiences as a member of Congress for more than 25 years, from inscribing his name into his Senate desk to spending time on the Comedy Central show, “The Colbert Report.”
Dorgan also explained why he is proud to be a member of the Democratic Party.
“Through every important fight in this country, the Democrats were there,” Dorgan said. “The progressive spirit is what this party is all about.”
Dorgan’s new book draws attention to the problematic relationship between profiteering corporations and the U.S. government. Dorgan argues that the U.S. cannot allow companies to continue outsourcing jobs to other nations while relying on the U.S. market for their sales.
“You can’t produce in sweatshops overseas then send it back to the U.S. to sell,” he said. “American workers shouldn’t have to compete with five-year-olds working in sweatshops.”
The senator spent an hour answering questions from the audience on issues ranging from the spread of nuclear weapons to the upcoming elections.
Dorgan announced that later this fall he would help lead the opposition against the proposed nuclear cooperation deal between the U.S. and India. The proposal would give India access to U.S. nuclear technology and allow the nation to develop their weapons program without inspections.
Any increase in nuclear weapons anywhere in the world would not solve U.S. problems, Dorgan said.
“This president wants more nuclear weapons. That is exactly the wrong thing for this country,” he said.
Dorgan said he thinks Democrats have the ability to win a majority in the House and Senate in the upcoming midterm election because of public discontent with the president and the Republican-dominated Congress.
One of the biggest problems Dorgan said he sees in America’s future is reliance on oil. He pointed out that his first car, a Ford Model T that he rebuilt, used the same destructive energy source as the cars that Ford continues to build today.
Dorgan criticized President Bush for tolerating the nation’s reliance on oil.
“We stick straws into the planet and suck out 84 million barrels a day, then we use a quarter of it. We have serious problems. I can’t think of a president less capable in these modern times to handle that than George W. Bush,” Dorgan said, drawing cheers from the audience.
With the November elections just weeks away, the College Democrats have been busy collaborating with nearby campaigns and inviting speakers to campus, CD organizers said. Having already organized 18 events this year, the group is looking forward to a dozen more major activities between now and Election Day.
“We were very excited to have another senator speak to us tonight,” said Robert Russo, the College Democrat’s assistant event director. “It is a testament to our success.”
Dorgan said he has witnessed a lot of political excitement on college campuses across the country.
“I think (college students) are more excited and interested in politics because of the war,” Dorgan said. “They live in a country with challenges, and they want to be a part of those challenges.”