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September 30, 1993 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-09-30

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 30, 1993 - 7

Students hope 'U' Lead or Leave chapter will spur deficit reduction

By JAMES NASH
FOR THE DAILY
United by age and a belief that the
political status quo-is rigged against
them, several University students have
organized a campus chapter of Lead
or Leave, a national lobbying group
for 18- to 34-year-olds.
Lacking both a headquarters and a
phone number, the University chapter
of the Washington-based group claims
a membership of 30. But members
express ambitions that belie the
chapter's humble beginnings.
"We want to be a force to reckon
with in the 1994 (congressional) elec-
tions," said co-president Benjamin
Bolger, an LSA junior. "There is a
perception that our generation is apa-
thetic about politics. We need to get
our generation involved in the politi-
cal process so we can become a formi-
dable voice."
Economic issues - particularly
the federal deficit and debt - are
Lead or Leave's rallying cry. Mem-
bers see the national debt as a $4.38
trillion time bomb set to detonate dur-
ing the wage-earning years of present-
day college students.
"The national debt and deficit are
issues that we can't afford to overlook
any longer," said Nick Nyhan, deputy

director of national Lead or Leave.
"We're inheriting this mess - and
we're going to be asked to pony up for
it. We're going to be the highest-taxed
generation in history, and the first
generation whose standard of living is
expected to go down.
"(Lead or Leave) is trying to do
something about it. We can't just sit
back and say, 'Oh, it just sucks."'
Members of the group distance
themselves from the Republican and
Democratic parties as well as Ross
Perot, although the former indepen-
dent presidential candidate has con-

tributed $42,000 to the national orga-
nization and shares its emphasis on
deficit reduction.
"We are absolutely independent
and non-partisan," said Chris Fuller,
the national field coordinator in Wash-
ington. "Ross Perot has his agenda
and we have ours. In fact, we have
turned away money that had strings
attached."
Lead or Leave first gained national
attention during the 1992 election.
The group urged congressional candi-
dates to pledge to leave office in 1996
unless the deficit is trimmed in half by

that year. The offer had 108 takers -
only 17 of whom were elected.
During its first year, Lead or Leave
has set up 75 chapters across the coun-
try with an estimated membership of
12,000. The group is launching a re-
cruitment drive this fall with a goal of
30,000 members, Nyhan said.
The University's fledgling chapter
hopes to attract "at least 50 to 75
(people)," Bolger said.
"I would not be at all surprised if
we could double or even triple that. I
sense that there is a great interest on
this campus in the economic and so-

cial issues we're talking about. They
just need an opportunity to become
active."
The national and University orga-
nizations are planning a teach-in at
the University for a date in late Octo-
ber.
Lead or Leave teach-ins are
planned at 10 universities during the
semester, the centerpiece of a cam-
paign called Get Real!
"Get Real! is our national educa-
tion campaign," Nyhan said. "We're
intending to educate and activate a
new wave of voters for the '94 elec-

tion. We need to be loud and squeaky
- get in the politicians' faces. I don't
mean we have to be antagonistic, but
direct."
The University chapter of Lead or
Leave is the brainchild of Bolger and
LSAjunior Stuart Sandler. Both spent
last summer as interns at Lead or
Leave's national headquarters.
"The most basic reason I got in-
volved is the economic disaster our
country is heading toward," said
Sandler, the University chapter's co-
president. "The 18-31 age group needs
a stronger voice."

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