Ice Cream and Party Politics.

On the list of things that I find interesting, alongside vegetarian recipe blogs, the hindi festival holi and baby animals, is the idea of party based politics.

This comes to mind when thinking about last week’s election and some of the conversations that I had about the election with some of my less politically minded friends.

When questioned about how they were voting, many simply replied with sentiments such as “oh, I’m a democrat, I’m just voting for whoever the democrat is.”

There is something about that mentality that rubs me the wrong way.

While I understand the idea of identifying heavily with a party, I cannot imagine having so much faith in an institution that I let it decide my vote, which I have always been taught is my most direct and effective tool to affect national politics.

I feel like in theory, parties are intuitive.

They give us the ability to associate and identify with likeminded people who share common values and opinions with ourselves.

But, at some point, human nature kicks in and our desire to define ourselves by the group that we are associated with takes over.

What once might have given a forum to conversation and learning among likeminded people now serves as an excuse for people to throw their political weight around without exerting any intellectual effort.

This is, of course, a generalization, but I have had enough of the aforementioned conversations to convince me that if this phenomenon is not common among voters now, it will increase as current young voters take the political reigns.

This is the original blog post that inspired me to think about this topic and eventually write this post.

This article makes an analogy that political parties are like ice cream carts.

It argues that the party system currently functions by pressuring its consumers to subscribe solely to one party (or brand of ice cream, think Ben and Jerry’s and Haagen Dazs). When, in reality,

It’s a model which is meant to predict which ice cream cart you choose out of two, not one that’s meant to persuade you to buy an ice cream if you don’t want one.

Yo. This makes so much sense.

Both types of ice cream are there if I want them.

Generally I prefer Ben and Jerry’s but if there is a day where Haagen Dazs is what I need, then you can bet that I am going to get Haagen Dazs.

I am sick of people telling me that I have to choose what type of ice cream I want and then stick to it for the rest of my life or else I risk earning such career ruining nicknames as flip flopper.

The moral of the story is that party loyalty isn’t always all that it’s cracked up to be and that-in my eyes-it’s better to make your own decisions based on the issues as opposed to party lines.

Frederick Lawrence’s Political Contribution History

Last winter, when Brandeis Trustee Meyer Koplow was nominated to serve as our next President, one of the major objections I heard to his candidacy was his ties to the Republican Party.  As Nathan Robinson wrote in the Hoot, Koplow’s record of political contributions includes several darlings of the right-wing, including the ultraconservative  Jim DeMint and my noxious home-state Senator Joe Lieberman.  I don’t know if these connections on their own should have disqualified Koplow from the Presidency (although it would have made it difficult for him to lead a student body that, according to Wikipedia, was ranked ninth-most liberal in the country by U.S. News and World Report); however, recalling that minor controversy made me curious as to what Frederick Lawrence’s contribution record looked like.

Searches for “Lawrence, Frederick” and “Lawrence, Fred” on revealed three contributions from an individual by that name employed at Boston University during the period in which President-designate Lawrence worked there (1988-2005).  I think it’s safe to say that they’re all from the guy we’re looking for, particularly since one of them specifies the donor as a “Professor of Law”.  They are:

  • $250 on 7/27/92 to Bill Clinton (D)
  • $2,000 on 9/20/00 to DNC Services Corp (D)
  • $500 on 10/27/04 to DNC Services Corp (D)

It looks like Lawrence isn’t a major political donor, but he’s batting 1.000 for Team Blue so far.  It’s hard to read anything into his current six year period of inactivity; not only has he done that before, but I can think of plenty of reasons why the head of a law school in Washington, D.C. might want to remain publicly neutral on questions of politics.

I have to admit that I find it comforting to know that Lawrence’s sympathies appear to lean Democratic.  It supports my hope that he’ll pursue strong progressive policies for the University, and it could signify that the run of Democratic luminaries that Brandeis has brought to speak while I’ve been here (Bill Clinton, Carl Levin, Howard Dean etc.) will continue with institutional support.