Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

American Politically Divided, Maine Congressman Says

Lucye Rafferty/The Hoya Rep. Allen (D-Maine) criticized the Bush administration on Tuesday.

Rep. Tom Allen (D-Maine) described American politics as starkly and fundamentally divided in a speech in New South on Tuesday. Allen touched on various legislative issues before calling on college students to help mend a nation at odds.

“Young people need to buy into this balance between individualism and community,” he said. “You need to help us, or we will be a very different country.”

The four-term congressman and Democratic whip at large told about 30 students in a New South classroom that Congress and the country as a whole are currently witnessing a clash of opposing values. Allen contrasted the “radical individualism” of Republicans with the Democrats’ community focus.

“I don’t know of anyone who ever did anything important alone,” he said. “The values that strengthen community are what we need today.”

Allen pointed out this value conflict in our nation’s foreign policy. He spoke of President Bush’s doctrine of “unilateralism and preemption” in contrast with “50 years of bipartisan American policy since World War II.”

On the environment, Allen accused the Bush administration of pandering to campaign contributors. A member of the House’s Energy and Air Quality and Environment and Hazardous Materials subcommittees, Allen called for an expansion of alternative energy sources. He said the United States was behind many European countries in the development of wind power as well as hybrid and diesel cars.

Calling the Bush administration “neo-conservative,” Allen also challenged the president’s tax cuts and economic policy.

“The slogan `It’s not the government’s money, it’s your money’ is designed to drive a wedge between the government and you,” he said.

Allen described the Republican plan to reform Medicare as a “mistake” and said differences on the issue are a result of the individualism-community values conflict.

But Allen also accused the Bush administration of helping to mute this debate.

“Sept. 11 has suppressed all the conversation about the future of the United States – about your future,” he said. “It is suppressed by what I would call greed and fear.”

Allen said that Bush wrongly diverted “energy and fear” from countries like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, where America should have been acting, to Iraq. Allen voted against the congressional resolution authorizing the war in Iraq, and was a lead sponsor of the Democratic substitute measure.

During a question and answer session, Allen was asked about the Democratic presidential primary. He said only four of the nine candidates have a likely chance of winning: Gov. Howard Dean (Vt.), Rep. Richard Gephardt (Mo.), Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) and Gen. Wesley Clark. Allen attended Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar with Clark, as well as President Clinton, but said he is not yet supporting any of the primary candidates.

Responding to a question about the importance of trust in politics, Allen predicted credibility could become a problem for President Bush in his reelection campaign. He recalled a March, 2001 appearance by Bush in Portland, Maine, in Allen’s congressional district. Allen said that Bush told a “bald-faced lie” there when he said that he wanted to set aside $1 trillion for a federal contingency account. Allen said that the account does not exist and was “made up” by itch Daniels (LAW ’79), then the director of the office of management and budget.

“The selling of the tax cuts has been based on a series of misrepresentations that make me want to throw up,” Allen said.

About half of the audience was made up of students from Maine. Lucy Sommo (SFS ’06), who lives in Allen’s district said, “He’s a good speaker. I agree with him, especially on the environment, and I am proud to be represented by him.”

College Democrats President Mary Gibson (COL ’05) cautioned that Allen’s search for a balance between competing values might not always be best, especially since as a whip he is a party leader. “I think that it’s important that we stick together as a party on important issues like health care,” she said.

On a night that the Boston Red Sox lost a close playoff game to their rivals, the New York Yankees, Joe Donahue’s (COL ’06) introduction of Allen as a “big Red Sox fan” was met with cheers and laughs from the New Englanders in the audience.

The College Democrats and the Office of Federal Relations sponsored the event.

Donate to The Hoya

Your donation will support the student journalists of Georgetown University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Hoya