The HPR is staffed by Harvard College students from across the political spectrum, and seeks to provide thoughtful analysis of important issues in campus, domestic, and world politics. In addition to being a quarterly periodical and web publication, the HPR is a platform for political thought, and so from time to time publishes work from political actors. This HPRgument features thoughts from two Harvard students currently working for opposing sides in Massachusetts’s US Senatorial race between Senator Scott Brown and former Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren. Neither student is writing in a capacity as an HPR staff member, and their opinions are their own.
Volunteering on a campaign can be unglamorous, unpaid, and unpleasant. Faces brave door slams, pores pool with sweat in the summer heat, and ears endure sharp tones and quick clicks. People contribute hours of their time poring over call lists, cutting “turf” to create walking maps in communities, sealing envelopes, and scrolling screens while researching the latest polls and issue updates. As a student working three jobs this summer, I can only devote a handful of hours each week to support Elizabeth Warren in her race to become a United States Senator, but Warren is worth the work for college students like me. Here are a few reasons why.
- Warren supports the Affordable Care Act, allowing young adults under 26 to stay on their parent’s health care plan. Before this legislation was signed into law, health insurers could and did remove young adults from their parent’s plans because of their age, leaving them without insurance. About 30 percent of young adults are uninsured, many of whom are recent college graduates. The ACA will extend coverage to young adults in need. Warren also promotes women’s health with her support of the ACA, which will work to end discrimination against women and individuals with pre-existing medical conditions. Warren wants college graduates insured. (Senator Brown is working to repeal “Obamacare.”)
- Warren will invest in clean, renewable energy to create green jobs, and protect the environment for future generations. Warren knows that a focus on clean energy can help create jobs for fresh graduates. She considers environmental preservation a moral imperative, and commits herself to not only preserving the natural beauty of Massachusetts, but also to keeping families healthy. If we continue to subsidize dirty sources including oil, gas, and coal, we endanger our health in a state where 1 in 10 people have asthma. (Senator Brown joined Republican legislators in voting against cutting $24 billion in oil subsidies).
- Warren inspires young people to engage in public service. In her article “Service Pays: Creating Opportunities by Linking College with Public Service,” Warren drafts a Service Pays initiative which endeavors to support college educations and promote loan repayment through public service. She acknowledges that less-affluent students are saddled with debt, requiring them to reject public service opportunities for immediate employment. In this proposal, she calls for building capacity in undergraduates to devise solutions to America’s challenges. I know that without the support of the service scholars program I participate in, I would not be able to invest my time in public interest work, which has developed me as a leader, a learner, a thinker and a doer more than any job has. A main source of today’s challenges is a gap in understanding (and often, therefore, compassion) of other people’s situations and struggles. Public service cultivates this understanding in people. By her work and her example, Warren is encouraging young women and men to consider dedicating themselves to careers in public service.
For these reasons, I will smile as I dial even when my voice is met by the prompt buzz of a hung-up phone receiver. I will focus on the benefits of canvassing, from building calf muscles to increasing awareness of community concerns. As beads of sweat form on my forehead while I march from porch to porch, I will remember that Warren is working for college students like me. I know that my contributions, however small, will make a difference in this race, which is expected to be among the closest in the country. Warren’s worth the work, and most certainly worth the vote.
Nadia Farjood is a senior concentrating in Government. She is volunteering with the Elizabeth Warren for Massachusetts campaign this summer.