Doing what's right
Herbert Hoover, the Great Depression scapegoat, is off the radar screens of ordinary Gen-Xers. Yet there he sits, a paper cutout perched on the computer monitor of Paul Howard ’97, who taps away in the nation’s capital as legislative assistant to Susan Collins, the moderate Republican senator from Maine.
A proud young member of the Grand Old Party with an interest in presidential has-beens like Hoover and Eisenhower, Howard also has room in his heart – and on his Sam Rayburn Senate Office Building bulletin board – for Democrats. An earnest portrait of Harry Truman hangs above a Titanic poster, renamed Clintanic, showing Clinton and Lewinsky in the DiCaprio and Winslet roles.
More than 200 Bates alumni work in the nation’s capital – political staffers and aides, bureaucrats and lobbyists, lawyers and members of the media, plus at least one elected federal official. Among a sampling of alumni who work the GOP spectrum on Capitol Hill, from the far right to the middle, a remarkably similar college experience – four years of jousting with the liberal majority, both students and faculty – has helped hone the intellectual tools needed to thrive in Washington’s swampy and conflictive maze. It’s a place where partisan politics notwithstanding, moderate voices steer the course.
Ask Rep. Bob Goodlatte ’74 of Virginia, a former Bates Republicans president, and his legislative director Ben Cline ’94, or former U.S. Marine John Luddy ’85, national security adviser to GOP Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona. They’ll concur with their more moderate colleagues: legislative crusader Angus “Don” Green ’86, a staffer for Susan Collins, just one floor away from the office suite where Maine’s senior senator, Republican Olympia Snowe, puts her political life in the hands of a Bates triumvirate. Down East native Kevin Raye ’83 is Snowe’s chief of staff, while Jane Calderwood ’83, a Republican since she turned 18, is legislative director. John Richter ’89, who remembers stumping for Ronald Reagan as a teenager, serves as executive speechwriter.
These Bates alumni have pondered their political calling more than most. Take John Luddy ’85. Raised in Amherst, Mass., by academic leftists (“they probably think they dropped me on my head”), Luddy arrived at Bates as a liberal Democrat. Four years later, he graduated in Marine whites, a right-wing conservative. His left-wing political origins, he says, strengthened his present views. “For me to become a conservative, I had to challenge a lot of the assumptions I had grown up with. The sign of real maturity is to understand the limits of your own background and try to find out about the opposite point of view.”
At Bates, the Bobcat cum Marine was unusual, but not alone. “Everyone was always respectful, supportive, and interested. Even enthusiastic,” said Luddy, who “never felt the slightest bit out of place” at Bates, where students nurtured friendships outside of political and ideological identities.
After graduation, the grandeur of the Quad dressed for Commencement was gone from Luddy’s mind as he led middle-of-the-night Marine infantry training raids in pounding surf aboard inflatable rubber boats. An infantry officer with time served in the Philippines, Guam, and South Korea, Luddy later earned a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law before joining the Heritage Foundation, the conservative D.C. think-tank. Luddy secured a job with conservative Sen. James Imhoff of Mississippi, a member of the Armed Services Committee, before coming aboard in 1997 as security analyst for conservative New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith and, recently, for Kyl of Arizona.
Luddy espouses the separation of the personal and the political in the hothouse of the capital. “It’s always been a code of military officers to avoid politics,” says Luddy.
The miracle of American government, Luddy says, is the process “that can put Ted Kennedy and Bob Smith into the same kettle and boil it and have something come out that works. I’m not a cynic about Washington politics. People who are cynical tend to be relatively less informed.” As an example of cynicism combined with ignorance of the process, Luddy fingers the press.
Luddy adores his job. On any given day, he must know a little bit about a lot of things, switching his intellectual radar from a nominee at the Department of Defense, to the crisis in Kosovo, to a constituent’s problem back in Arizona. “I pinch myself every time I walk onto the Senate floor,” he says. “I love being in a place where I can walk down the hall and whisper in the ear of a senator who is about to go vote on how millions of dollars are spent.”
Unlike Luddy, Don Green ’86 descends from a long line of Republicans, including a grandfather, employed by the Republican National Committee, who campaigned for Wendel Wilkie. Green doesn’t flinch at the liberal Bates activism he reads about. Since graduating 13 years ago, he has worked in an environment “where the clash of ideas happens every day, vigorously.” It’s a simple fact of life: The four elected officials for whom Green has worked “get criticized every day of their lives.”
Green remembers himself as a politically apathetic student, “bumping along the road of life.” His father wanted him to take a junior year abroad, and Green didn’t. As a compromise, he spent his junior fall semester in Washington as a congressional intern. Amidst the excitement of the 1984 Reagan-Mondale contest, Green got hooked on politics. Through the auspices of Doug Hodgkin, Bates’ long-time professor of political science, he secured an internship in the Auburn office of then-congresswoman Olympia Snowe during his senior Short Term. Soon thereafter, he landed a job on her legislative staff in Washington.
He’s been in Washington ever since. In 1999, Green became legislative director for the investigations subcommittee chaired by Maine’s Susan Collins. He analyzes policy and creates legislation often in the news, including telephone and medicaid fraud. On the last day of its 1999 session, the Senate gave final approval to Collins’ legislation to prevent deception in sweepstakes and other promotional mailings.
Party extremists wave flags and set debate parameters, says Green, but Senate moderates like Collins and Snowe create the compromises to pass legislation. “The best attribute I brought from Bates College to working on the Hill was the ability to communicate an idea to somebody. It’s the single most important criterion in the political process,” he says.
The scion of a politically active Down East clan, Kevin Raye ’83 was one of the few 7-year-olds in Eastport, Maine, who was as captivated by the 1968 Nixon-Humphrey debates as Saturday-morning cartoons. He also remembers watching his grandmother, a Republican poll watcher in Washington County, check off voters. His father, the Democratic town chairman, gave Raye some pause about his political bent, but he finally “gravitated naturally to the Republican side of the aisle.”
Maine political folklore says that a teen-age Raye once wrote Olympia Snowe, then a Maine state legislator, a letter to which Snowe replied with a five-page handwritten missive. She promised that she would visit him personally when testing the political waters in Washington County. She did, and they have been tightly allied ever since.
Raye left Snowe’s congressional staff to raise money for her successful 1994 Senate campaign and returned to Washington as her chief of staff, overseeing a million-dollar budget and commanding a staff of 36 in six offices. “It’s a lot of responsibility in a fascinating job.” A job well-done, according to Snowe, who says that Raye is “the glue that holds the office together.”
Raye, who once waged an unsuccessful run for the Maine Legislature while at Bates, has grown less conservative over the years. Today, he values the middle and veers away from posturing for political purposes. “We bridge the partisan divide,” he says. “Both sides are always courting you.” Moderation allows for a focus on what’s right rather than toeing the party line, he says.
Raye and Bates classmate Jane Calderwood ’83 have worked for Snowe since their graduation. Snowe’s legislative director, Calderwood is her longest-serving adviser, a virtual encyclopedia of legislative debate and history. “She’s a tremendous asset for Olympia,” Raye says with pride.
The daughter of moderate Bangor Republicans, Calderwood remembers, at age 18, her father accompanying her when she registered to vote, to ensure she joined the GOP. Everyone has her own definition of Republican and Democrat, she says. “I think both sides have a big tent, and sometimes you may be in one section of the tent where they’re not quite so happy to have you, But that doesn’t mean you don’t belong there.”
Calderwood likes to look at particular issues rather than party lines. She learned to appreciate complexity at Bates, where she was “challenged every day in the classroom that there was not just one right way and one wrong way, that maybe there were eight other ways to get there.” And that’s how Washington works, too, Calderwood says. “It’s a funny place because whoever your opponent is today, you two might be taking on the world together tomorrow, so you just keep it in that context.”
Bill Clinton may have learned that lesson from the five Senate Republicans, including Mainers Collins and Snowe, who voted against both articles of impeachment. Attorney Derek Langhauser ’84 joined Raye, Calderwood, and executive speechwriter John Richter ’89 to comprise Snowe’s Bates-only impeachment team. Calderwood says her fellow legislative directors were “as horrified as I was” during the impeachment trial. “It was the system at its best and worst.”
Congressman Bob Goodlatte ’74, representing a conservative northern Virginia district, emerged in the impeachment spotlight as one of Bill Clinton’s harshest judiciary committee critics during the 1998 hearings. “I was disappointed in the lack of communication between the two sides,” said Goodlatte. He found the inability of Democrats and Republicans to find common ground a contrast to the bipartisanship he remembered in 1974, when Republicans (such as Maine’s then-congressman Bill Cohen) “were willing to say that the president violated the law.”
“Not Flamboyant but Friendly, Fair, Focused” said the Roanoake Times & World-Newsheadline in a 1992 feature on Goodlatte, who displayed his methodical nature by counting the number of hands he shook at campaign events. Paneled with wood and mementos, Goodlatte’s Rayburn Office Building digs seem, well, congressional. A framed map of Stanton, Va., along with his Bates College and Washington and Lee Law School diplomas keep company with autographed photographs of the congressman with some Republican icons: William Buckley, George Bush, Trent Lott, Jack Kemp, and Ronald Reagan.
Visitors to Goodlatte’s office are immediately reminded that his district is the most heavily agrarian in Virginia. Packets of Virginia salted nuts, compliments of the state’s peanut growers association, are available for snacking. Aside from his agriculture committee assignment, he co-chairs the bipartisan Congressional Internet Caucus and chairs the House Republican High Technology Working Group, where’s he’s become a leader on Internet law.
Goodlatte’s experience with the Quimby Debate Society reinforced his lifelong interest in “listening to ideas contrary to my own.” The regular debating demands of congressional campaigns require incumbents to “represent your constituents and your conscience; you need to speak. There are principles you can’t compromise.” He finds some room to negotiate on certain bipartisan issues, but principles rule. When first elected to office, he donated the pay raise Congress had voted itself to charities within his district. To date, his contributions total $22,000.
As a 14-year-old Holyoke, Mass., student, Goodlatte campaigned for Bay State Republican Sen. Edward Brooke and presidential candidate Richard Nixon. “For as long as I can remember, I was a conservative,” he says. Goodlatte arrived at Bates on the heels of the Vietnam-era campus demonstrations to become the first full-term president of the Bates Representative Assembly and chair of the Bates Republicans. While on campus, he met his future wife, Maryellen Flaherty ’74, campaigned again for Nixon, and soaked up wisdom from a faculty mentor: “Doug Hodgkin is a great Republican,” he said.
He also remembers Bates as a place “where ideas competed freely.” A campus visit by Gary Hart, George McGovern’s campaign manager at the time, might very well follow a Bates appearance by Bill Cohen to discuss the judiciary committee and Watergate hearings.
Goodlatte employs fellow alum and constituent Ben Cline ’94 as his legislative director. At Bates, Cline found himself as engaged in the political science classes of Bill Corlett, a Wobbly unionist, as he was in those of Republican fixture Doug Hodgkin. Although most Bates professors and students respected his conservative point of view, Cline has distaste for those “who were not only unaccepting of your views, but, because they were different, they were therefore wrong.”
Born and raised in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Cline never thought of his values as conservative until he arrived in Lewiston. He was startled when his first Bates class was with a Marxist professor from Nigeria who taught sub-Saharan African politics. Four years of northern exposure to positions “overwhelmingly contrary” to his own forced the young Southerner to evaluate and defend his views. “Most of us at Bates just built upon the values we were raised on,” said Cline.
Paul Howard ’97, the Hoover aficionado from Sen. Collins’ office, also found that the vast majority of his Bates peers did not share his right-of-center political philosophy. Sometimes, he watched what he said. Other times, he enjoyed the chance to test his views against the opposition. Howard remembers fondly Associate Professor Hilmar Jensen launching his “History of American Protest” course with the announcement, “I am a radical,” openly presenting his left-of-center academic perspective and welcoming challenges to it.
Cline served as president of a nonpartisan politics club, driving students to polls and inviting speakers to campus. He also engaged in more partisan pursuits such as hanging a banner from a Rand window supporting U.S. troops in the Gulf as fellow students marched outside against the war. “One thing I learned at Bates – and it has really developed here in Washington – is that there’s a time and place for everything. You choose your battles.”
Our Man in Lewiston
Retiring this year at age 55, Professor of Political Science Douglas Hodgkin is practically a babe in the woods. But after 34 years at Bates, he stands as the Republican grand-daddy on campus.
A Lewiston native (whose family dates to the city’s earliest days) and Maine Republican party activist, Hodgkin has often served as a media pundit on state and federal electoral issues and has a long tradition of encouraging his students to help research political issues in the Lewiston-Auburn community.
Since 1979, when a student asked to receive credit for working with then-congresswoman Olympia Snowe, Hodgkin has placed dozens of students in legislative internships, both locally and in the nation’s capital. He also drills the interns with related reading and paper-writing. “Students have to put what they learn into context, and it helps for them to question their experiences.”
As one of the few faculty conservatives on a typically liberal college campus, Hodgkin says that “people are tolerant at Bates. That’s what has made it possible for me to survive here.” He wonders whether another conservative political scientist will replace him, but has his doubts. “Conservatives are more likely to stay out of academia. They go into business or law.”