Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


City, students react to war referendum

Students and city officials did not seem to display any large amount of surprise about Madison's vote to support the "Bring the Troops Home" referendum Tuesday.

The referendum, which proposes to immediately withdraw United States troops from Iraq, passed by a large margin of 68 percent of the vote.

"I think it sends an overwhelming message and a clear signal of the discontent of Madison," Brian Shactman, chair of the University of Wisconsin College Democrats, said. "Everyone knew that the referendum was going to pass, but they didn't think it was going to pass by the margin that it did."


Shactman, a junior, voted 'yes' to the referendum, and added the more surprising results came from the results of the other 23 communities that voted for the resolution.

He noted some Wisconsin communities voted for Bush in the presidential election but voted in support of the referendum yesterday.

"I think we saw this resolution … wasn't just limited to Madison," Shactman said. "It's a growing trend on how many people are really angry."

But UW College Republicans Chair Jordan Smith felt the referendum would not influence any current legislative policy.

"I think with Madison voting the way it did, it's still not going to change anything," she said. "Part of it is people who are similar to one another congregate together … which is why Madison is mostly liberal and mostly progressive."

Smith, who voted against the referendum, speculated the referendum was created to criticize the Bush administration.

UW senior Brandon Flugaur did not vote in yesterday's election, but said he did not support the referendum because of its language, which proposes withdrawal "now."

"My feeling is bringing [troops] home now would be a mistake," he said. "I don't buy the argument that referendums will galvanize those in Iraq … I still wouldn't pull the troops, we aren't done yet."

Flugaur noted he believes the troops should come home, but instead on a timetable schedule, as proposed by U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis.

"We need to set our policy and get the discussion going," Flugaur added. "We want to get serious about getting the troops home, but we should be thinking about it a little bit more."

Smith also added the "transient" nature of the university's student population — a significant portion of the Madison community — may have affected the total vote, especially in the number of students that actually voted.

"A lot of us vote back at home, we don't choose to vote or not choose to register in Madison," Jordan remarked. "It's a disappointment that people didn't come and voiced their views."

But Flugaur said the election results reflected the "liberal culture" of the city.

George Twigg, communications for Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, said the mayor supports the referendum and was "pleased" to see the resolution pass. He added the city has sent a message that "speaks for itself."

The point of the referendum, Shactman said, was not to see immediate changes in policymakers' actions.

"Nobody wasn't expecting foreign policy to change overnight," he added. "But it should stimulate debate about what's going on the other side of the world."

Flugaur agreed with Shactman's sentiments by adding the referendum will indeed alert policymakers in some manner.

"I think these referendums are at least a signal to federal legislators that there needs to be discussion to be put on the table," he said.

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