Kuster ’78 Advocates Political Involvment

Kuster meets with the College Democrats.

Kuster meets with the College Democrats.

On Sunday, September 21, one of the multiple members of Congress who bear the distinction of having graduated from Dartmouth visited her alma mater. Ann McLane Kuster, of New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District, arrived fashionably late to a modest crowd of College Democrats and students curious to hear what she had to say. Representative Kuster, according to College Democrats President Spencer Blair, “is always happy to return to her alma mater and meet with students. In fact this summer she opened for Dartmouth’s national summit on sexual assault.”

In her short speech, Kuster emphasized the impact Dartmouth students have by voting in New Hampshire elections, “The role that you can play… is actually very significant….. We have one of the top us Senate races in the country. We are two of the very top house races in the country, in terms of who can control the house. [Y]ou can actual make the difference in a national way.” She encouraged students to take advantage of New Hampshire’s open voting laws, saying, “This is your home. The way New Hampshire law works is that if you have an intention to live here, you can register to vote here in New Hampshire.”

At this point, after initial disclaimers about her reluctance to attack her opponent, Kuster arrived at the nexus of her speech, “The woman that I am running against….is a very, very far right I would say radical right wing tea party opponent. She is funded by the Koch brothers…. [I]t is fair to say they are coming into New Hampshire to try to influence elections…. For your voice to count… you can’t get drowned out in that money.” Kuster proceeded to outline the differences between her and Marilinda Garcia, her aforementioned adversary, focusing almost entirely on women’s issues and education. She stressed Garcia’s alleged opposition to government funded financial aid and student loans for college students, saying that such a position runs counter to American meritocratic principles.

When asked by The Review what one aspect of her Dartmouth experienced had most influenced her political career, Representative Kuster replied that as a member of the Class of 1978, she had the opportunity to, “to experience the very earliest days of coeducation at Dartmouth and understand in a very personal way the implication of the minority experience. I had been raised in a community… that was not segregated by gender, and to come here and experience being in a minority group was instrumental in my life in terms of my commitment to fairness and opportunity for every person.”

Contrary to her stated fear that students were attending the event solely for the free pizza offered, a few of those in attendance who spoke to The Review expressed a genuine desire to learn more about the issues at stake in New Hampshire and how they could participate in the electoral process. Those interviewed seemed to be interested in hearing from candidates from across the aisle as well, with many asserting their neutrality or previous lack of involvement in politics. As one ’18 put it, “Coming in from a non-partisan perspective, I think some points were very true…. Others I could say that she is a… very good speaker….”