This article was posted on “The Breeze” JMU’s Online News Magazine this morning. Author Chris Kent
College Republicans advocating a change
JMU College Republicans, an organization committed to promoting conservative ideals on campus, hosted its first Spring Banquet last Thursday. The meeting included both Republican representatives and JMU students.
Noteworthy attendees included former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va), Virginia Delegate and JMU business law professor Ben Cline and political science professor Pete Giesen.
Giesen received the first Pete Giesen award at the banquet. Named after him, it honors political service to the state of Virginia and continuing efforts to educate and involve students in state politics. Giesen’s political career started in 1964 when he was elected Virginia Delegate to the 25th district and continued until his retirement in 1996 when he was State House Representative.
Gilmore and Goodlatte gave the keynote speeches at the event, eliciting standing ovations from the audience.
Gilmore, who was in charge of the commonwealth as governor from 1998 to 2002, spoke at the end of the dinner, touching on what he considers to be the problems America faces today. Gilmore listed the nation’s fluctuating economy as the greatest concern, followed by the current foreign relation policies. He believes the lack of quality, high- paying jobs available to college graduates across America has contributed to inadequate job growth.
“When a person comes out of college they ought to have an opportunity to have a selection of jobs that will give them a decent career,” Gilmore said. “Forty-seven percent of college graduates in America today end up working in jobs that do not require a bachelor’s degree and that is because we do not have good enough career paths in the United States. We have inadequate job growth.”
Gilmore believes the tax cuts and special interest loopholes in national policies have stifled the job market and economy in America. He would rather see tax cuts across the board, not just for special interest groups or companies, and he would like to see the loopholes in tax laws closed, hoping this will encourage investment and economic growth.
“I think it is a deliberate policy to have slow growth in this country,” Gilmore said. “I think it is because we keep raising taxes on investments. When you raise taxes on investments, you get less investments, and when you get less investments you get fewer and less jobs.”
Gilmore was approached with questions, asking if he was seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2016. While he didn’t officially give the intentions on doing so, he laughed, saying he was thinking about it. He mentioned the bad taste the current administration left in his mouth regarding Barack Obama’s policy on pulling out the U.S military from nations and the semi-isolationism this creates.
However, on the opposite side, Gilmore doesn’t favor the neo-conservative policy of using military first and then questioning later, which Obama’s predecessors, like George W. Bush, promoted. Neo-conservativism includes those who promote American interests abroad and are characterized by their use of military force.
Christian Heiens, a junior political science major and College Republican, was surprised by Gilmore’s comments on foreign policy.
“I think it is interesting that he is understanding that younger Republicans are more in tune to the Rand Paul message, so especially talking to a bunch of college Republicans, I think he is trying to reach out to us, but I think he is genuine about it,” Heiens said. “He is understanding it is not just isolationism versus invading every country in the world. The United States as a leader in foreign policy has to be able to do everything.”
Gilmore ended his remarks by saying that he thinks the people of Virginia are suffering under the current administration, and the closing speech by Goodlatte championed this belief. Goodlatte left the event before he was able to be approached for comments, although his closing speech summarized that problems faced by normal Americans today are due in great part to the belief that the government can solve anything. Goodlatte added that changes needed to be made to welfare and retirement entitlements.
The event even attracted Virginia Delegate Ben Cline. Both left encouraged by the turnout and cohesiveness of the young Republicans present. Cline said he was thankful for the event, especially for the work done by JMU College Republicans to recruit new members. JMU is in what Cline regards as the Commonwealth’s breadbasket of Republican voters and encourages the JMU College Republicans continuing volunteer efforts.
“I have noticed an enthusiasm by students to get involved, to give back to their communities and to their commonwealth,” Cline said. “JMU republicans, JMU students in general, are very aware of the world around them. They want to be involved, they want to contribute to the betterment of their world. And those with Republican leanings have really helped out the cause statewide, and nationally, by getting involved here at the JMU CR. So, power to them.”
contact Chris Kent at email@example.com.