Political Awareness week enlightens students about issues: Michael Dukakis on Political Activism

By Dan Agarkov
Published: June 2010

Political Awareness Week, running from May 19 to 21, invited a fair share of famous politicians to South. Two weeks later, South hosted former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, who spoke to students and teachers on June 4.

The event, held in the auditorium, was organized by the Liberal Student Union with the goal of bringing more political awareness to South. The group chose to invite Dukakis because they thought his superior speaking skills would enable him to both educate and inspire students.

Liberal Student Union Co-President and junior David Melly said the event was incredibly successful. “Everyone really seemed to enjoy it, Melly said, “because [Dukakis] is very down-to-earth.Dukakis’ main purpose was to inspire students to get involved in politics and public service. He spent a large part of his introductory speech focusing on how he got into politics, initially getting elected as a Brookline town representative.

Dukakis lost to George H.W. Bush in the 1988 presidential election, and in his speech he acknowledged that he made several mistakes in his presidential campaign. Even so, Dukakis repeatedly attributed his prior successes to his devotion to “precinct-based support.

“I went around to each house, ringing every doorbell in my precinct [of Brookline], Dukakis said, referring to his first political experience. “If I could do it, each of you can do it,

Dukakis proclaimed, urging members of the audience to either volunteer in politics or run for public office. He explained that his political career began from nothing except discontent with the local politics at the time.

This theme continued with his presidency run when he was specifically disturbed by the Iran-Contra scandal.

Dukakis also discussed several current issues, such as the recent Supreme Court decision not to ban corporate donations for political campaigns and George W. Bush’s presidency. He heavily criticized the ruling and said that nowhere in the Constitution does it say that monetary donations are an expression of free speech. On the topic of Bush’s presidency, he called Bush “the worst president we’ve had in the past 100 years.

Junior Joe Step said that it seemed like Dukakis’ story really got through to students.

“Coming from such a modest background he was able to do so much, Step said, “and I think that got through to most of the kids because he did such a good job of making his story relatable.

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