Election 2012

Lebanon Valley College

“Campaign is a victory for tolerance”

By Jeffrey W. Robbins

“Don’t look now, but with only a few days left until the presidential election, one of the most potentially explosive and divisive issues has not become a factor: religion.”

“Consider what happened only four years ago, after Mitt Romney and Barack Obama were first introduced to the American public as presidential candidates….”

View Dr. Robbins’ extended commentary from the Philadelphia Inquirer by clicking here.

A debatable future for the U.S.

By Paul Heise, for the Lebanon Daily News

“So, why do the two men who aspire to leadership of the ‘greatest country in the world’ bicker over soundbites and make petty, out-of-context misquotes? President Obama and Gov. Romney should be using this election campaign to compare solutions to the problem of managing our future or just getting past our present mess. Very bright possibilities are being put in doubt.”

For the rest of this commentary, visit http://www.ldnews.com/columns/ci_21879964

Reflections on the Life of a Field Organizer – Alicia Gurdus ’09

By Alicia Gurdus ’09, assistant director of annual giving


How do you know you made the right choice when you cast your vote in an election?  Four years ago, my life was in a different place.  I barely slept, ate junk food for every meal, and worked 18 hours a day as a Field Organizer in Lebanon and Dauphin Counties.  I was in college, full of energy and drive, and determined to add my stitching to the quilt of political history in a tangible way. I became enamored and inspired in a breathtaking way by politics and the concept of the American dream.


In early 2008, I began to volunteer, transitioned into an internship, and by the beginning of fall had garnered full-time employment as a Field Organizer on the Obama Campaign in Pennsylvania.  Field work is no easy task, and after dedicating 110% of my heart and soul to it, I’m not afraid to tell it like it is.  There is no time for rest on a campaign.  There is also no time for the following: fun, BS, crying, illness, breathing deep breaths, eating well, having friends, or watching TV. I’m serious.  Does that sound like something a college student would willingly do if she didn’t believe in what she was promoting?  I didn’t think so.


So where am I now?  What happens to grassroots campaign workers after Election Day?  What happens to them four years later?  Some of us jump right back in.  Some of us never leave. Some of us jump ship, return to the world of the living, breathing, sleeping-at-normal-hours-and-never-worrying-about-poll-numbers-again American people and never look back.  That’s me.


Do I regret my decision to dedicate myself completely in 2008? No!  It was the most deeply life-changing experience of my life.  I grew up on that campaign.  I became who I am today. I have GREAT stories. I ate raw eggs to get someone to volunteer for me one time, and that’s just the tip of the crazy iceberg. I kid you not.


No one ever said all the hope and change you’ve dreamed of can happen overnight.  Or in four years.  No one can perfectly map the schedule of future events.  But I can say, truthfully, that my life is better now than it was four years ago.  President Obama extending tax cuts to the middle class affected me directly, keeping more money in my pocket.  The $787 billion stimulus bill that President Barack Obama signed into law in 2009 helped me purchase a home instead of continuing to rent by providing the first-time homebuyers tax credit.  Imagine the joy of a 22-year-old purchasing her first home AND getting $8,000 back. Bam. Today, I still own my home, where I am living happily ever after with my fiancé (who I met just three days after to 2008 election!), our two pugs, Ozzie and Yogi, and our cat, SubZero.  I’m invested in my community, succeeding in a job that I love based on the skills I learning on political campaigns, and enjoying my own little slice of the pie in GrownUpWorld.


Could I dedicate that time again? No. My life is different now, changed for the better.  But in that moment in time, I had the chance to give my all for a dream and a belief in something bigger than myself, and I loved every crazy, crying, laughing, oh-my-God-why-do-I-do-this-to-myself moment.  Does that change the depth and meaning of my conviction and belief in my President because I can’t do it again this time around? Not one bit.  He’s got me hook, line, and sinker after all the positive changes I’ve experienced.  Yes, I am better off than I was four years ago.  I made the right decision for me in 2008, and I’ll be making the same again this Fall.


Christa Levko ’12 Attends Presidential Debate at Hofstra University

Hofstra University notified its students via email on Oct. 14 of their selection by lottery to attend the presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on Oct. 16. Though Christa Levko ’12 had put her name in to attend, she didn’t get that email invitation.

“I was really bummed,” she said. “I knew the chances were slim, but I was hoping to get picked.”

But at 3:15 p.m. on the afternoon of the debate – while she was at home in her pajamas – Levko received an exciting email from the school.

Read the rest of the story at www.lvc.edu/news.

Mitt Romney’s business focus indicative of a lack of political vision

By Paul Heise, for the Lebanon Daily News

“Mitt Romney has been around a long time as a Mormon, a businessman and a political figure. Yet, no one seems to really know him.

“Friends and family object to most of the characterizations with the statement: “But I don’t think that’s who he is.” So, who is he?

“Romney is, first and foremost, a very wealthy private equity financier and that, sadly, explains everything. In particular, it explains the almost total lack of a vision.”

For the rest of this commentary, visit


Are you a Prospective, Retrospective, or Median Voter?

By Chris Dolan, associate professor of political science and international studies

Political scientists stress three basic factors in understanding how citizens will vote in any election.  First, citizens may base their vote on political party affiliation.  Put simply, you will vote for Mitt Romney because he is a Republican.  Second, voters are likely to view personality and/or character as most important.  Let’s face it, there will be millions of people who will vote for President Obama because they believe he understands people like them.  Last but certainly not least, voters may gravitate toward a candidate’s stand on the issues regardless of personality or party.  These are complex voters who tend to be independent.

These three factors tend to explain certain “types” of voters.  Prospective voters believe elections provide people with real choices and alternatives.  These voters presume that each party is a cohesive and unified organization that takes clear policy positions with the result being that the winning party will do exactly what it promised.

A retrospective voter assumes voters make reflective judgments about how well incumbents have performed while in office.  In effect, citizens will reward incumbents with their vote if they believe he or she was successful in office.  You will vote for Obama if you believe he has performed well in office or punish him if he made things worse.  However, citizens will only punish Obama by voting for his Republican opponent if they believe the GOP presents a stronger, more legitimate alternative to Obama.

Median voters prefer that both political parties move towards the center of the political spectrum.  This approach calls for both parties to compete for votes by taking the most popular positions they can, thereby moderating themselves based on popular opinion.  However, in doing so, both parties are likely to support the same policies, which are those favored by the most people.  The key idea is that both parties, competing for votes, tend to take policy stands near the median of public opinion.

Given that Republicans tend to be much more conservative than Democrats on a number of economic and social issues provides voters with a measure of democratic control by enabling them to detect differences and make choices.  But since the U.S. is a two-party system with third parties having little chance of winning office, how much real choice do voters have on Election Day?

Are Republicans really all that different from Democrats?  Will Romney present voters with a real and clear alternative in November?

“The Woman Question” – Dr. Cathy Romagnolo

By Dr. Cathy Romagnolo, associate professor of English

Women, we are told, will decide this election. On first glance, to this feminist writer, that seems like a great thing. Until that is, I examine what it really means. The fact that women will decide this election is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it means that our (women’s) power is increasing, and we are taking advantage of it. On the other hand, women are so mobilized to use this power because to a great extent where women’s choices, rights, and autonomy had been a given, they are now up for debate again.

“The woman question” as the debate over women’s rights was called in the early twentieth century is being raised again. In this election and for that matter in the political discourse of at least the last eight years, the woman question has taken a prominent position. Moreover, the proliferation of woman questions—questions about women’s roles, women’s bodies, motherhood, women’s contraception–has been dotted by particularly heinous examples of misogyny by the likes of Todd Akin (who questioned the definition of rape) and Rush Limbaugh (who called Sandra Fluke a “slut” for her support of freer access to birth control).

But those examples are not actually what bothers me most. Not since the 1960s have we seen such a shift in the public presumption that women’s choices are up for debate. And these are not debates among women themselves, but debates by and among men on both sides of the political spectrum. The all male congressional hearing on access to birth control is a particularly visible example: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/02/birth-control-hearing-was-like-stepping-into-a-time-machine/

The political left tells us that the right has waged a “war on women,” and indeed, Republican opposition to Obama’s proposed changes to health care coverage for women; stances by people like Rick Santorum, who decries abortion even in cases of incest and rape; efforts to redefine rape; and condescending attitudes toward female politicians who are told they are not “ladylike” do make me feel under siege. But the willingness to engage publicly in debates over questions that should have been laid to rest long ago is most disconcerting to me. Given the current political climate we have no choice but to enter into these demeaning debates, but many days I feel as if American women are starring in an episode of “Mad Men.” If only that were the truth.

Professor Emeritus Paul Heise Publishes Political Commentary

LVC professor emeritus of economics Dr. Paul Heise writes commentary for the Opinions Section of the Lebanon Daily News. His columns often takes a political angle, such as this week’s post titled “Hopefuls Fight Economic Theories.”

“The only serious topic in next week’s presidential debate is going to be our stagnating economy. Everything else will be, or at least should be, dealt with only in so far as it affects the economy…”

Read the rest of Heise’s commentary at http://www.ldnews.com/columns/ci_21642467/hopefuls-fight-economic-theories.

Students Survey Campus Interest in Voting

Lebanon Valley College freshman business administration major Dennis Brophy produced a video titled “Does the Lebanon Valley College Community Find Voting Important?” Brophy, with help of other students, surveyed campus constituents to determine if they will vote, and to get feedback on voter apathy.

Does the Lebanon Valley College Community Find Voting Important?

Disclaimer: Student and staff opinions are their own.