Young Democrats steadily growing, seeking to avoid ‘lame duck’ period
This year is expected to be one of the biggest in Arkansas political history. According to UALR Young Democrats leader Miguel Lopez, that’s the perfect reason to join in on the action.
Young Democrats of America is a national organization led by youths under 36 years of age, which mobilizes middle school students and college students alike to become politically active.
As of last fall, two UALR students saw the need to initiate a university chapter. Freshman Trevor Dye and junior Miguel Lopez noticed there was a Young Republicans chapter and decided the Democrats could use representation as well.
“We’re trying to let everyone at UALR know that we have our own chapter,” Lopez said. “If you’re interested in politics, and even if you’re not, you just want something that’s going to look great on your resume, this is the perfect organization to be involved with.”
About six people attended the first meeting, Lopez said. By the second meeting, however, the number of attendees had nearly tripled.
“We’re only getting bigger,” he said. “I feel like the stronger [and] the bigger we get, the more important and dependent the democratic process is going to be on us.”
Lopez recognizes that not everyone shares his enthusiasm for politics. Nevertheless, he recommends that all have at least some level of political involvement.
“Politics affects everything you do….directly or indirectly. It’s going to affect you and the best thing you can do to be a smart, informed, and responsible citizen is to, at least, keep up with some of the stuff, some of the legislation that’s being passed.”
Lopez argues that no academic major or career is exempt from the forces of U.S. politics.
“If you’re an IT major, well, what about the NSA spying on every civilian? That affects you as an IT major. If you’re going to be a doctor, ObamaCare just passed. That’s going to affect you because you collect money from the insurances.”
“Even if you don’t want to be the next president or a politician or a senator, you should still know what party stands for what because, at the end of the day, you have to go vote.”
Still, a question lingers: Why should one choose the Democratic Party?
“They call the democratic party the ‘big tent’ party because everybody can fit under the Democratic Party,” Lopez said. “It doesn’t’ matter if you’ re gay, if you’re black, if you’re Jewish, if you’re a minority, if you’re poor, if you’re rich.”
“They put common sense before anything, before political ideology,” he added. “I think that’s a message that anybody can relate to.”
UALR Young Democrats is determined not to have their organization become another “lame duck” organization, according to Lopez. Already, its members have been working with politicians in the upcoming political races like those involving senator Mark Pryor and candidate Mike Ross.
Recently, the group attended the Arkansas Democratic Caucus fundraiser event at Cajun’s Wharf restaurant, where they met several of the state’s leading public figures. They also donate canned goods to those in the community.
The perks of joining Young Democrats are not limited shaking hands with politicians and dinner parties, though. The group is involved in volunteer work like donating can goods to those in the community. Lopez said he even had the opportunity to be in a commercial for the gubernatorial campaign of Mike Ross, who is a UALR alumnus.
“It’s the perfect time for us to be involved,” said Lopez. “I imagine by October and November, we’re going to see CNN. We’re going to see all of these major news sources cover Arkansas because the governor race and the senator race are gong to be that important.”
Once every two months, the group meets with other chapters in the central Arkansas area, which includes Arkansas Baptist College, Hendrix, UCA and others. Lopez said the meetings allow the students to build friendships and relationships with likeminded youth interested in similar causes.
To find out more about the UALR Young Democrats, connect with them on their Facebook page, UALR Young Democrats, or follow them on Twitter at @ualryoungdems.