The post-election shift of power in America is seen not only in the legislative and executive branches of government, but also in GW’s political organizations.
When Barack Obama is sworn in this January and Democrats increase their majority in Congress, the College Democrats will have the advantage on campus for the first time in eight years.
“Having a Republican in the White House unquestionably influenced the role of the two organizations on campus,” said junior Brandon Hines, College Republicans communications director. “Now, the Republicans are the opposition, and we will challenge the Democrats from the position of being the minority party. It is a different role than we are accustomed to.”
Junior Eshawn Rawlley, communications director for GW Students for Barack Obama, and a member of the CDs, acknowledged the growing Democratic momentum since 2006, but also said having a Democrat in the White House will undoubtedly change the role of Democrats on campus.
“The Democratic Party and College Democrats find ourselves in the absolute majority,” Rawlley said. “This is a position we have not been in for 15 years. Being in the majority means we as a party have immense power to advance our agenda.”
CD President Cory Struble said he will give his organization until the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration to celebrate their hard work in the election. Then they will use the momentum from the election to tackle larger issues on campus and Capitol Hill after Obama is sworn in as the next president.
“We want to make sure the voices of young people are heard,” said Struble, a senior. “They were heard in the election and we want to make sure we use our resources to voice the concerns of our generation.”
He said the CDs plan to lobby Congress on issues important to Democrats and young people like student loans, global warming and gay marriage.
“We’ll try to take on activism and awareness on the Hill and make a difference,” he said. “We reached out to 60,000 voters (during this election), and we will use the same energy that led us to do that and refocus it on knocking on the doors of senators.”
While the Democrats have hit the ground running, Republicans have had to re-evaluate their standing and ideological message.
“This defeat gives us a unique opportunity to rebuild our movement and for conservatives to reiterate what’s important to the Republican Party,” said senior Brand Kroeger, chairman of the GW and DC Federation of CRs. “When Carter was elected, he gave us Ronald Reagan. When Clinton was elected, he gave us Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America. In defeat, conservatives always come back even stronger.”
Kroeger said the CRs also plan to lobby members of Congress and “protest any moves by the new administration that we think are contradictory to our values and principles.”
With a strengthened Democratic Party backing his group, Struble said he hopes Student Association funding for the CDs will increase next year.
Struble said their spring programs will hopefully prove “worthy of allocation.”
For now, both groups will continue to sponsor speakers and hold forums as they spread their messages throughout the District and across the GW campus.