On what’s typically viewed as a predominantly liberal campus, former President of the Georgia State Young Democrats Evan Malbrough is navigating the complex Democratic Party while working to excite student voters on campus at the same time.
In contrast, Jaylan Scott is taking a state-wide approach, creating grassroots campaigns in local areas in Georgia, a state that some are beginning to view as a potential battleground for both Republicans and Democrats.
Both of these leaders in the Young Democrats are Georgia State students.
Jaylan Scott, who is the executive vice president for the Georgia chapter of the Young Democrats of America, was inspired to get into politics after growing up watching his mother struggle to pay bills.
“I am not the only person that goes through these issues, and I want to improve the lives of people in my community,” he said.
Scott said he was drawn to the Young Dems when he was 16 and was looking for an organization that was made up by people who were average citizens and with 9-to-5 jobs but still worked in politics.
His job consists of supervising the other vice presidents, advancing the organization’s platform, preparing for conferences, fundraising and supporting local chapters.
Scott has worked on multiple campaigns, including Stacey Abrams’ campaign for Georgia Governor and other Georgia politicians, including Michael Blake, Lester Miller and David Cook.
He recently met with members of the Bernie Sanders campaign to discuss issues involving young voters.
Scott feels that the Democratic party can do more to invigorate voters on campus.
“We need to organize and do statewide events that involve the Georgia State campus, especially protests,” he said.
Scott feels that the distrust between Democrats and voters goes back to the youth.
“I was not super happy with myself about being a Democrat, because the party does not invest in young people,” he said. “We need to invest in communities and local areas.”
Scott sees fundraising as incredibly important when organizing the party on a state level.
As a member of the Young Dems, Scott sees that the Democratic Party is fragmented.
“The DNC is blocked by their own establishment ideas; there are many of us that are a lot more progressive than [the establishment’s] moderate ideas,” Scott said.
He also wants to see more discourse on issues besides immigration and healthcare.
“We need to be able to focus on other issues like homelessness,” he said. “I hate walking down Georgia State’s campus and seeing all these homeless people and we’re not doing anything about it.”
As a black man, Scott also works hard to ensure that black people are fully represented.
“The contribution that black women bring to the Democratic Party is often ignored. Issues like black hair discrimination are not actually addressed,” he said. “When I move into spaces you have 99 white faces and then you have me.”
Scott said grassroots is the heart of their movement, by going into communities he thinks the Republican Party ignores.
“We seek to influence people that may not know if they’re going to vote or who they’re going to vote for. We had to do that with Stacey Abrams,” he said.
Evan Malbrough shares a similar sentiment to Scott and worked to connect with liberal voters on Georgia State campus during a turbulent time in national politics.
Malbrough’s father was a small business owner in Smyrna, Georgia, and he met politicians through local business functions and church.
As president of the Georgia State chapter of Young Dems in his sophomore year, from May 2017 until the end of 2018, he had issues with how students viewed Democrats.
“Not only did we face fallout from Donald Trump [winning the election] but also from Hillary Clinton,” he said.
Malbrough described a situation that was rough, including getting “dirty looks” at the OrgFair. So, he focused on more grassroot ideas, having bi-monthly meetings and brought in Democratic candidates to speak directly to students.
They also established the Young Democrats and College Republicans Debate, which he says is the Young Dems’ biggest event.
Malbrough is now the president of Vote Everywhere GSU, a local chapter of a national, non-partisan movement to increase civic engagement through student leaders. While still a member of the Young Dems, he currently works for the Georgia State Student Government Association as the communications director for the Atlanta campus senate. Recently, he interned for Georgia Congressman David Scott.
Malbrough said he balances his nonpartisan work with Vote Everywhere and the highly partisan aspect of the Young Dems by focusing on the issues and not the politics.
“The biggest thing I learned being in Young Democrats is that I don’t like Democratic Party politics, I prefer to focus on the actual issues,” he said.
To explain this, he describes how some candidates may have ideas that are unconstitutional or not politically viable. As an example, he mentions former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s comments about taking away tax exempt status from churches that will not perform gay marriages ceremonies.
He feels this is what turns many voters away from the party.
“It’s grandstanding and politics and it’s become a part of [the Democratic Party’s] culture now. So, we need to focus on coming up with issues and [a party infrastructure] that Democratic voters want to hear about,” he said.
An example of these key issues for him is his work on the upcoming 2020 census.
“The focus of the census is social programming and extending voter access, which is something that voters can relate to,” he said.
Malbrough is also working to establish his own identity in the field.
“When you’re a black person in politics, they always align [me] with the latest black person in politics to make it big,” he said. “Like, I like Stacey Abrams too, but I’m not Stacey Abrams.”
Malbrough also brings news that Georgia State may soon see voting booths on campus. He is currently working alongside the Zeta Mu Alphas and the Student Government Association to make this possible.
“We’re onset to have the only polling location run by students in the county. We have 12 students that have signed up and we’re working with Fulton county right now for training,” he said.