The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Digger talks politics

| Wednesday, November 5, 2008

After casting his ballot at Legends Nov. 4, former Notre Dame basketball coach Richard “Digger” Phelps told The Observer while voting is important, he says the nation desperately needs to refocus attention to the issues that matter.

“We are so out of focus about the real issues,” Phelps said.

Phelps is no stranger to the political realm, having served in President George Bush’s administration in 1992 and 1993 as special assistant to the Executive Office of the President for National Drug Control Policy.

Phelps’ criticized the current campaign cycle, calling it “out of control.” He specifically called for caps on campaign spending.

“After seeing both Obama and McCain spend a billion dollars in this campaign,” Phelps said. “Why don’t we, the people, say, look … have the Republican Convention, the Democratic Convention, pick a candidate, give us two months to decide which we want, and here’s a cap on what you guys can spend.”

Phelps cited the high cost of Obama’s Election Night rally in Chicago’s Grant Park, costing $1.5 million. He said the money spent during campaigns would be better spent addressing some of the challenges facing the country.

“The fact that [Obama] spent a half million on a half hour of television last week, and the kids in Chicago don’t have textbooks,” Phelps said.

“Every 26 seconds we’re losing a kid out of high school in the United States,” he added.

He tied this to incarceration rates.

“80 percent of those in our federal, state and local prisons are high school dropouts. If we’re dropping out a million kids a year … that’s 800,000 kids a year getting ready for the prisons,” he said.

Yet politicians find it necessary to spend massive amounts of money to get into office, while the real issues get pushed to the side, Phelps said.

“A billion dollars for this campaign? And what do they do? All the ads are negative,” Phelps said.

However the campaigns might be run, though, Phelps said that voting is an integral part of preserving American freedom.

“We live for one reason in this country – freedom, and people forget at times,” he said. “We vote for freedom. We vote to protect the red, white, and blue, the flag.”

– Aaron Steiner