Harvard University student John “Jack” Kocsis has received some eyerolls and sneers from peers this month after prominently affixing a Bush/Cheney ’04 campaign sticker to the back of his laptop during the first week of school.
As far as Kocsis is concerned, that’s the whole point.
The sticker serves as a conversation starter – what he calls “old-fashioned political agitation” – in an attempt to engage the many liberal students at Harvard in a spirited debate on whether there’s any difference between the current administration and the previous one.
“If there is one thing liberals always say is, ‘Oh, Bush/Cheney was the worst president in history,’ ” Kocsis said in an interview with The College Fix. “But we’ve just sort of had this continual aggrandizement of the national security state with President Obama.”
That’s what he tells fellow students if they pester him about his sticker. The 20-year-old government major will argue to students, for example, that Obama has harnessed the controversial Patriot Act – passed by President Bush with bipartisan Congressional support in the wake of 9/11 – to vastly increase domestic spy tactics.
Indeed, the existence of the Patriot Act runs antithesis to Obama’s campaign promises, let alone the National Security Agency’s unconstitutional monitoring of American’s personal electronic communications, he said.
“Everyone now is in a state of, ‘OK – we are all being watched by the government, they can read anyone’s emails,’ ” Kocsis says. “That’s scary.”
He also mentions to peers the seemingly never-ending war against terror in the Middle East. He throws in talk of drone strikes and unchecked Guantanamo Bay detentions under Obama. He tosses in how lobbyists frequent the White House, and how the guy who promised to be the most transparent president in history is quite the opposite. The fact that Obama wanted to bomb Syria? Case closed.
“When Obama came into power he made no effort to rein in the size and scope of national security,” Kocsis said. “It’s a real shame. He was given a Nobel Peace Prize but has done nothing, in my opinion, for the call of world peace.”
Granted, Kocsis is a well-known Republican on campus. He writes a bi-monthly political column for The Harvard Crimson, is secretary for the Massachusetts Alliance of College Republicans, and has helped with numerous political campaigns, including Mitt Romney’s recent presidential bid, as he works toward a possible career as a political consultant.
In explaining his decision to put the Bush/Cheney sticker on his laptop in a recent column in The Crimson, Kocsis wrote “while the ubiquity of bleeding heart liberals at an Ivy League university was not unexpected upon my arrival in Cambridge two years ago, it quickly became obvious to me that steadfast support for President Obama springs from something deeper than a young idealist with a supposedly intransigent moral compass becoming disgusted about Bush’s ever-expanding surveillance state.”
“Continued support for Obama in liberal circles is truly stunning, especially considering this summer’s revelations about the administration’s blatant disregard for privacy and fundamental liberties. … Obama seems to believe he has not only the authority to kill potentially dangerous Americans but also the power to spy on every single one of them.”
Kocsis has received some positive feedback from the Bush/Cheney sticker.
“I have gotten a lot of compliments from people who have seen the sticker and say it’s a really good point,” he said.
Kocsis is a self-described moderate, and aligns himself with what he describes as the “libertarian non-interventionist inkling that has been on the rise in Republican Party.” With that, he’s more laissez-faire on social issues. He supports gay-marriage, for example.
But when it comes to Obama, he’s ready to take on peers at one of the nation’s most preeminent private universities.
“I’ve reconciled my conservative upbringing with sort of this very liberal atmosphere … and have come up with a viewpoint that I think can be more widely appreciated,” he said. “I support free market economics more than anyone else.”
Kocsis acknowledges, however, that his brand of conservatism is accepted at Harvard.
“It’s OK to be a Republican here if you are a certain type of Republican that liberals can say, ‘Oh, you are moderate, you are in favor of gay marriage, you are in favor of amnesty,’ ” Kocsis said.
Yet at times even Kocsis gets uncomfortable. He cited a class he took his freshman year that hammered home the notion that “you can’t reason with conservatives because they are intellectually inferior.”
“That really bothered me,” he said.
This year, he’s glad to be in a class taught by the great Professor Harvey Mansfield, and said he takes a more proactive role in vetting classes before he enrolls.
“Of course you have classes that are left,” he said, “but if you dictate your own academic experience, there is a possibility for a well-rounded education.”
Jennifer Kabbany is associate editor of The College Fix.
IMAGE: Courtesy Photo