Over the past two weeks, the Republican and Democratic national conventions (RNC and DNC) made the focus of the Trump and Biden campaigns evident to the American public. For PLNU students who have never voted in the presidential elections, this provides an opportunity to identify which platform best represents their political values and interests.
The DNC concluded on August 20 with a speech by Joe Biden in which he presented himself as a unifying candidate and a representative of the working class and marginalized communities. The following week, speakers at the RNC focused on the Trump administration’s contribution to the resilience of the U.S. economy and strengthening of national security, while also depicting a grim future of the U.S. under Biden. The aim of both major parties was to portray their candidates as the only option for preserving the country’s fundamental values and securing a better future for Americans.
Although the presidential election decides leadership at the national level, the College Democrats and College Republicans — two politically affiliated clubs at PLNU — urge students to consider how current issues affect them and the broader community. The two clubs defined what they view as the most important political issues for the PLNU community in recent interviews with The Point. The College Democrats said they view student debt and climate change as two major issues that should be addressed to secure a favorable future for the university and its students. The College Republicans said they view the expansion of job opportunities as a more pertinent issue for the current generation of students.
“Biden’s climate action plan is more than what we are getting under Trump,” Maggie Valentine, president of the College Democrats, said.
The Biden campaign promised a climate action plan that will hold fossil fuel industries and major polluters accountable, while investing in clean energy and environmental research. In their interest for environmental policies, the College Democrats find representation in Biden.
For the College Republicans, Trump represents their interest in corporate tax cuts and the deregulation of energy industries. They view these policies by the Trump administration as important for increasing investors’ confidence in U.S. businesses and creating more job opportunities in the country. In a paper submitted to PLNU’s Associated Student Body (ASB) Board of Directors, the club’s president, Bronson Bowdich, outlined the values of the club and the Republican party. He described the Trump administration’s dedication to Republican policies designed to “encourage growth, innovation, protection of American jobs, and to ensure the American individual thrives.”
Both clubs view the 2020 presidential elections as one of the most important elections in modern history, and ask that students exercise their political rights to vote and make demands from the government.
“Every vote matters and no one should be intimidated to vote one way or the other,” Bowdich said.
Despite being a voter in a historically Republican state, College Democrats President Valentine said, “I will be voting for President and all other races and propositions on the ballot.”
Aside from political participation, the preservation of political discourse on campus is something both clubs view as important to the PLNU community. Both club leaders mentioned they seek more conversations where there is an exchange of political ideas. During a time of social unrest and mass demands for government action, Bowdich said, “the only way we move forward is if we talk about these issues.”
In addition to engaging with each other on campus, College Democrats Vice President Zeshan Monks-Husain calls on students to “be active in their community and hear how people are dealing with current issues.”
Lindsey Lupo, professor and co-chair of the department of history and political science, said the department focuses on encouraging civility through listening.
“Empathy is at the core of civil discourse,” Lupo said. “It’s amazing how quickly your guard will come down once you hear someone else’s story.”
Along with staying informed on current events, students looking for political representation in upcoming and future elections can explore how social activism clubs on campus find representation. In addition to the College Democrats and College Republicans, the ASB website lists other clubs like Students for Environmental Action & Awareness (SEAA), Students for Life and Friends of Zion, which also discuss political issues. Participation in these clubs may allow students to widen their perspectives, gain a better understanding of their own ideals and participate in civil discourse.
“A healthy democracy requires deliberation, the free exchange of ideas, and ultimately, decisions made that won’t make everyone happy,” Lupo said. “But representative democracy has answers: access to a free press, voting rights, civil liberties and a rotation of power. It is a messy process. But to preserve freedom, liberty, and personal autonomy, it is the only option.”
Written By: Anthony Cruz