I would like to welcome all the new members of the Drexel Democrats, and I thought that a good way to do that would be a brief history of the most influential thing we ever did. With a pitch like that, how could you not read this post? Click "There's More..." for the story.
It all goes back to the fall of 2004. Brad Levinson, now graduated, formed the organization in advance of the 2004 presidential elections, and we all worked diligently for a Kerry victory. Alas, it was not to be, but by 2005 we had stopped crying and got back to business. For those of you who don't remember those dark times, Bush had just been reelected by a very thin margin in a very long and divisive campaign. To make things worse, the media dutifully repeated Bush's claims to a mandate, and a stockpile of political capital.
In February 2005, Bush launched his ambitious campaign to destroy social security. There was an extensive propaganda campaign to convince people that social security was financially unsound, and that they only way to protect American's retirement was to privatize it. Democrats were uncharacteristically united in their opposition, and held the line against Bush's charge. Bush bit off a little more than he could chew, however, when he messed with the Drexel Democrats.
Now, a little context for what comes next. Bush and the republicans had been very determined to try to convince Americans that Bush's privatization was not designed to end social security, but to make it stronger. Despite the obvious harmful impact of the proposal, republicans claimed dutifully that they were trying to save social security, not destroy it. Keep that in mind.
On February 22nd, 2005, the junior Republican senator from PA, and all around Bush lackey Rick Santorum came to Drexel to hold a town-hall meeting to promote Bush's social security privatization. In anticipation of Santorum's visit, the Drexel Democrats organized a protest outside of the Creese Student Union Center, where Santorum was to speak. We were not protesting his right to speak, just vocally expressing our disagreement with his support for social security privatization. We marshalled about 40-50 members of the Drexel Democrats, the Penn Democrats, and local DFA members (many senior citizens), and at 8 am on a cold morning in Philly we exercised our first amendment rights.
When Santorum's limo pulled up, around 9 am or so, we all began shouting
"Hey hey, ho ho, Rick Santorum's got to go!There were also about 6 or 7 college republicans there, supporting Santorum. They were outmanned and outgunned, but they valiently (and stupidly) tried to co-opt our chant, and began shouting in unison
"Hey hey, ho ho, Rick Santorum's got to go!
"Hey hey, ho ho, Social Security's got to go!Notice the difference. Almost immediately, all of our guys stopped shouting, and let the republicans shout that. Remember, republicans had been trying very hard to convince people that they didn't want to end social security.
"Hey hey, ho ho, Social Security's got to go!
CNN, local ABC, CBS, and NBC were all there covering the event. Their cameras caught the republicans chanting their true desires, and it took off. CNN featured it as the "political play of the week." Furthermore, the vocal opposition from young and old alike made a strong narrative against privatization. The New York Times, Washington Post, US News and World Report, The American Prospect, Newsweek, and of course the liberal blogosphere all wrote about the vocal opposition that Santorum faced at Drexel, and used it to point out why some GOP politicians were reluctant to get on board with privatization.
That was the high watermark of Bush and the GOP. After losing the fight over social security (mostly due to the Drexel Democrats, natch), they fell further with Terri Schaivo, Hurricane Katrina, and the ongoing war in Iraq. And that's how the Drexel Democrats changed history (with help from an own-goal by the Drexel Republicans).
Yes, oversold, but whatever.
Here, for your viewing pleasure, are the boneheaded Drexel College Republicans from 2005. If anyone can find better video that's still around, let me know.