After a period of political turmoil, including riots on Capitol Hill and heated presidential and Senate elections, college Democrats and Republicans discuss what they wish to see from the new administration.
On Jan. 6, the Georgia State Young Democrats released a statement on Instagram, congratulating John Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock on their Senate wins, expressing disapproval of the Capitol attacks and warning students of domestic terrorist groups arriving in Atlanta.
“It is a bittersweet day for Americans today. One mourns while one rejoices … Emotions are high but know that your safety is of utmost importance. Stay safe, Panthers, please,” the post stated.
Georgia State Young Democrats Finance Director Ndubuidi Onwumere said that the organization was “appalled” at the events on Capitol Hill.
“What should’ve been an exciting day quickly became a black eye in American history,” Onwumere said. “We’re relieved that none of the members of Congress were harmed as the insurrectionists intended to.”
However, Onwumere noted that the event did not surprise him, citing the “vile rhetoric” the Trump administration spread about Congress, the press and other Americans for the last five years.
“Trump spent nearly the entire run-up to Election Day … pushing a lie to his … supporters that … a presidential election will be stolen from them and then continued … with the lie after he lost. I don’t have a problem envisioning what happened happening,” Onwumere said.
After the official presidential election results, many Republicans felt their party was wronged and decided to take action by organizing the Jan. 6 “Save America Rally” in Washington, D.C.
At the rally, things quickly got out of control when protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol and began looting Congress members’ offices.
“We are saddened that it got to the point where people felt they couldn’t trust the system of our great republic,” Chairman of College Republicans at Georgia State Timi Jafojo said. “If both parties worked together to ease people’s concerns, [then] maybe it wouldn’t get to that point,”
Onwumere also noted Trump supporters’ presence on social media, planning the attack between Biden’s projection and certification ceremony on Jan. 6.
“The FBI, if they [don’t have one], needs a TikTok account because I saw all the ‘wait til the LIBS find out about Jan. 6’ and ‘Civil War Part 2’ posts days in advance,” Onwumere said.
Jafojo said that the organization “follow[s] President Trump’s lead in condemning political violence and not tolerating it.”
There have been several passionate suggestions from both sides on how they want this country to move forward and what they’ll like to see with this next administration.
Jafojo wants Biden to unite the country but also says that Democrats’ recent decisions aren’t helping, believing that the expulsion of Republican senators and the conviction of former president Trump will not aid in that goal.
“To me, that doesn’t sound like [a call] for unity; it’s [a call] for submission,” he said. “To heal the country, they need to tone down their rhetoric so [that] people on the right don’t think Democrats hate them.”
According to Onwumere, the Young Democrats and College Republicans have not discussed unity or the future following the 2020 presidential and Senate elections.
“I will say this from where I stand: The GOP needs to decide what side of history they intend to be on,” he said.
Ossoff and Warnock’s runoff wins are significant for the Young Democrats for two reasons: Their victories make them both the first Democrats elected to the U.S. Senate from Georgia since 2000 when Zell Miller assumed office; Warnock is the first Black senator in Georgia’s history. Onwumere called them “history-makers.”
“We’re glad that they now have an opportunity to create meaningful legislation that can help the people of Georgia and the nation as a whole,” he said.
The Young Democrats are “elated” after the recent Senate and presidential wins, with Onwumere calling the last four years a “nightmare” for racial minorities, immigrants and the LGBTQ community because of former president Trump’s “divisiveness, actions and rhetoric.”
“We’re excited by our federal trifecta, but we understand that the election was just the first step and that there is plenty of work to be done at all levels of government,” Onwumere said.
Republicans and Democrats have discussed the issue of COVID-19 relief in both presidential and senate debates.
“We need to open the country back up in a safe and responsible manner; right now, small businesses are being destroyed; according to CNBC, 60% of small businesses have been permanently closed,” Jafojo said.
Jafojo also says Biden hasn’t been fully transparent with many promises he made that contributed to getting him elected.
“I’ve already seen them breaking promises of getting the pandemic under control; Joe Biden has recently come out and said [that] ‘nothing can change the trajectory of the [COVID-19] pandemic over the next several months’ after campaigning on getting the virus under control,” he said.
Biden signed two executive orders on Friday, one of which would increase federal food assistance and streamline the delivery of stimulus checks to stabilize the economy without Congressional aid.
While Biden does have an aggressive agenda in place for his first 100 days, it will take help from both sides of the aisle to get it accomplished.
In the next administration, the Young Democrats hope to see COVID-19 relief, such as economic relief bills, unemployment benefits and vaccine funding. They also hope to see the federal minimum wage increased to $15 per hour and legislation recognizing and slowing the effects of climate change.
“Additionally, and probably the easiest of all, is a presidential administration that acts like a presidential administration — none of the Twitter beefing, facts-denial, etc.,” Onwumere said. “We need an administration that means to work for all people, not just its base.”
Looking toward the future, both the college Democrats and Republicans hope to work with their respective parties to help mend Americans’ trust in democracy.