This year, Blue Week's theme is "Turn Left at the Next Election," focusing on issues in the '08 elections that will make the Democratic Party stand out. Chair of the College Democrats Daniella Voysey '09 said, "We especially want students to take a moment and consider policies that are really important right now, such as the cost of education, climate change and war."
Blue Week began on Monday, April 7 with keynote speaker R.T. Rybak. Rybak has been the mayor of Minneapolis since 2001 and is passionate about putting democratic ideals to action.
Rybak's talk addressed three values that he believes sets the democratic party apart: not treating everyone equally, connecting the dots and common ground.
"Of course the government should be fair," Rybak said. "but there's a large gap between the haves and have-nots in this country, and it's the government's role to care for those the most in need."
Regarding "connecting the dots," Rybak said that younger audiences especially tend to realize how major political issues are forever inter-connected. For example, war, the economy and climate change are not three separate issues according to Ryback. War is are often fought over oil, which cannot change unless the United States develops a green economy, and going green will have an obvious positive impact on global warming, he argued.
However, Rybak saved the most important value for last.
"[Common ground], more than anything, is what being a Democrat is about," Rybak said. "This demonstrates our responsibility to others -- the difference between 'I' and 'we'."
Rybak discussed how the Minneapolis bridge collapse showed how often citizens share common ground without much thought, until it's gone. "Think about all we share," Rybak said. "This is an issue of us being in it together -- the most important goal of democrats."
Following the Monday night kick-off, Blue Week held a special Political Awareness Committee dinner on Tuesday evening with commentary by professor Hoefrenning. Hoefrenning discussed the history of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party, a merged democratic party unique to Minnesota.
Thursday featured an all-day letter writing campaign that focused on a variety of issues.The letters will be written to government officials on a variety of issues, with a focus on environmentalism.
At 8 p.m. Thursday night, there will be a Blue Week concert in the Pause spotlighting a variety of campus musicians. A coloring contest will continue all week long, with donkey pictures available for pick up at the Blue Week table in front of Stav Hall. The best picture will win a free College Democrats T-shirt.