Beyond the Books

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Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012 1:22 p.m.

Seniors hope to turn political brawls into happy hours

Enough with the filibusters. It’s time for bar crawls.

Two seniors want to calm Washington political sniping by bringing policymakers together over beers – and they’ve set up a Super PAC to buy the brews.

President Barack Obama, Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Sergeant James Crowley took part in a “beer summit” in July 2009 after a race controversy at Harvard. Two GW seniors hope more beer summits can help secure the country’s fiscal future. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Daniel Bassali and Winslow Marshall registered the Slam Dunks, Fireworks and Eagles Super PAC with the Federal Election Commission in early June. ABC News reported Wednesday that they hope to raise $5,000 by September, tapping the checkbooks of family, friends and online supporters to pay for events where politicians can discuss issues over beer.

“This used to be an old Washington tradition that has unfortunately disappeared. We are bringing it back. America is sick of the partisan divide that is keeping us stuck,” Bassali told The Hatchet. “We believe that if we have a friendlier government then we will have a better government.”

Bassali and Marshall, who are roommates and members of Pi Kappa Phi, have targeted deficit reduction as the Super PAC’s signature issue – hoping Republicans and Democrats take a step back from fiscal cliffs and have a beer to settle their differences.

Bassali said he and Winslow were “frustrated” soon after registering their Super PAC, unable to come up with the group’s  purpose. “This was a project without a mission,” he said.

“Finally, my roommate and I sat down together and had a beer. We talked about what we were most concerned about as college students who will soon be joining the work force,” he added. “Even though Winslow leans a little to the left and I lean to the right, we both agreed that our nations deficit and fiscal irresponsibility eclipsed every other issue we face as a nation.”

To encourage more fiscal responsibility, they will use campaign finance laws as their wingman. People have no donation limits when they give to Super PACs, which aren’t tied to official campaigns.

The Slam Dunks, Fireworks and Eagles Super PAC is the latest in a string of political groups that have used absurdity to drum up attention for their cause. Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow” set off the trend, paving the way for groups with names like “Raptors for Jesus” and “Joe Six Pac.”

But Bassali said Super PAC stunts weren’t his motivation.

“The concept that any average American, even those still in college, could create their own organization with the hopes of making their impact on democracy intrigued me,” he said.