The midterm elections are rapidly approaching. For the University of Arizona's student political groups this means there is no time like the present to engage their members and other students across campus.
The UA College Republicans and the UA Young Democrats are two politically active clubs on campus that each represent the two major political parties in the country. While they don’t share the same viewpoints, they are each preparing for the midterm elections in their own ways.
“We’re actually partnering with multiple campaigns across the state like senatorial, gubernatorial and just the general GOP. But essentially, we go out and do a bunch of canvassing. So we’ll do door-to-door knocking as well as calling and texting voters,” College Republicans President Alton Zhang said.
While the College Republicans are canvasing to get their club involved, the Young Democrats are also finding their own ways to prepare.
Anastasia Taylor, the Young Democrats president, said that the group is working on educating the community and members on the candidates running for office. The group even got to speak with Kirsten Engel, a congressional candidate from district six, about her platform.
“I really think that we as an E-Board have really pushed for getting to know candidates. You see these ads on TV and social media posts, but that’s really not the best way to meet a candidate, so we’ve just been meeting them and asking them questions to get a true sense of their platform," Taylor said.
Both clubs are making strides to inform their members about the upcoming midterm elections, and these clubs also feel strongly about the importance of the midterms as a whole and what they represent for the nation.
“The midterms are important because they are the pulse of the nation. Presidential elections are amazing, and they’re very important, but I think that Americans, and university students particularly, often neglect that the midterms are just as, if not more important.” Zhang said. “If you don't like what the president is doing, then you’re supposed to use your vote to cast your voice out into Congress. If you do like what the President is doing, then they might need help in the Senate or in the House of Representatives. They might need that vote that they don’t have in Congress.”
The midterm elections play a big part in what a president is able to get done in their term. If a midterm election flips which party has control of any chamber of Congress, it could potentially alter plans or policies that the president could have been working to implement.
On top of this, the terms are different for each position as well, which Taylor explains.
“Historically, [midterms] are important because Congress and the House of Representatives are voted in every two years, and Senators are voted in every six years. So the midterms are a really good way to gauge where the country is ideologically regarding politics,” Taylor said.
Where the country is at currently is playing a large role in how Taylor and Young Democrats are viewing the midterms as well. With the overturning of Roe v. Wade and Arizona recently passing a law banning abortion at 15 weeks across the state with little to no exceptions, the Young Democrats are urging people to vote.
“The rights of minorities in this country are being trampled, and I think that’s the bottom line of why the midterms are important. We need people in power who are going to fight for the rights of everyone, not just white men,” Taylor said.
With Arizona politics making national headlines recently, state elections are now particularly more important than ever.
“The presidential race in Arizona was a very tight race with a difference of only 11,000 voters. There are several times that amount of students at universities like here or [Arizona State University], for example,” Zhang said. “I hear so often college students saying things like, 'oh, my vote doesn’t matter,' or 'it wouldn’t make that much of a dent,' and I laugh at that because our local elections are decided by even thinner margins than 11,000.”
The College Republicans heavily stress the importance of being politically engaged, especially as college students.
“We are not meant to be silenced. We have a voice, and if you do not engage with the politics in your country, then you’ll just have to sit by and watch while people in power make decisions for you. Decisions that you may or may not like. If you want to protect your country, if you want to protect your ideals, you actually have to get out and do something about it,” Zhang said.
Young Democrats express the same beliefs on the matter of college students being politically engaged.
“It’s important for everyone, but for college students especially, I don’t think we put a lot of thought into it because we feel as though these things don’t affect us. … I think as young people, we have this thing [where we think] that everything is fine and that we’re super people and that I can only care about so much while trying to survive off my minimum wage job. Which as messed up as it is, these issues we are fighting for now are either going to affect you down the line or even right now,” Taylor said.
The Arizona midterm elections will take place Nov. 8. Both clubs are preparing for what could be considered a turning point for the state of Arizona, with candidates vying for positions such as U.S. senator, Governor, attorney general and secretary of state.
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