Understanding Republicans By Understanding College Republicans

At dinner with my little brother and cousin the other night we were discussing my absolute favorite story about College Republicans; When a former chair of the NJ State College Republicans, Steve Damion, got a little too big for his britches and started trying to extort money out of a Republican campaign. The College Republican blog "Truth Caucus" published an exchange of emails, and it's really a sight to behold. Steve starts it off by setting the tone;

I would be more than happy to give that information to you and the Forrester Campaign, but I am looking at you to help us out as well.


Keep me posted on this. If there is a 3,000 dollar check waiting for me I am coming running and the campaign will have total access to our resources at all times, no problem.

The State Chair of the real Republican party responded with an epic smackdown. Some choice excerpts;

Let me suggest that you need to re-read what you wrote, think about the people your working with, and spend this weekend thinking about the reasons I shouldn’t share your email with every legislator and county chairman in the state (I can promise you that if I do, the few dollars you’ve raised will be the last you see from any Republican organization or candidate) and then contact the national CR office to have your ass removed. Your approach is 100% out of line – not to mention quite possibly illegal.


The first thing you’ll do is get Sean exactly what he asked you for first thing Monday AM with your apology and assurance that he will have from you complete and unqualified cooperation from now on.


Now that I see what you’re all about, I’d also like by then a complete accounting for the CR account for the past 2 years. I want to know where every dollar came from and every penny went. I’d also like a monthly report from you detailing the same info. After that we’ll see if it’s necessary for us to put a co-signer on the CR account to make sure that funds are spent in accordance with the mission of the group.


You’re off on the wrong foot and need to earn our collective trust and respect by demonstrating that you are not at all what your email suggests you are. The good news for you is that should you decide to adjust your attitude, we don’t have time to hold this unfortunate episode against you. Do the right thing and we’ll forget this ever happened. I’m think you’re smart enough to see the opportunity you’re being given. See where I’m coming from?

Anyway, my brother was unfamiliar with the episode, and when we started discussing the fantastic Franklin Foer piece for TNR about the anything-not-only-goes-but-is-encouraged elections for CRNC chair, he made an excellent point.

It's the same shit as adult Republicans, just a smaller pond. This isn't really coincidental. To a large degree, the party bosses, candidates, and activists of the Republican party cut their chops in the College Republicans. Karl Rove. Lee Atwater. Jack Abramoff. Ralph Reed. Grover Norquist. They brought the culture with them. It probably flows downhill, too. College Republicans see their heros fucking people over in the big game, and they don't see any reason not to operate that way also.

I think that appreciating the ethos and modus operandi of College Republicans is an important step to understanding where the National Republican party is today. Extremeism is encouraged, if not demanded. Getting attention takes priority over getting results. Getting elected and enjoying the spoils of war is the object of their game.

On a completely unrelated note, a Google Image search led me to this hilarious article from 2006 about some College Democrat/College Republican back and forth. It featured these two quotes from College Republican Philip Blattenberger.

College Republican Philip Blattenberger explained, “We’re not against gay rights, it’s just that most prominent Republican speakers are, and we support their message. I mean, we don’t support THE MESSAGE, but we invite them to say it. That is, not to say that specifically, but to say the other things that they say. I’m not homophobic.”


When asked about Morals Week being created in opposition to PRIDE Week, Philip Blattenberger responded, “It’s not so much that we oppose PRIDE, it’s that we disagree with certain things they do. Not that we oppose gay rights. We just don’t agree on some topics. Gay rights isn’t necessarily one of those topics. I’m not homophobic.”

Wow. That guy must be really not homophobic.