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CarlDems focus on downballot excitement in 2020 election season

Joe Biden is all but confirmed as the Democratic presidential nominee. He is not the candidate that most of us at Carleton wanted, and there is work to be done within the Democratic Party to make sure the accusations against him are explored to regain trust among the public. So how can we gain excitement as a party, particularly among young people, so that the next few months until an election, one of the most consequential of our lives, can be fruitful?

Last week, CarlDems signed on to a press release from the College Democrats of Minnesota calling for Joe Biden to “fully cooperate with any investigations into the allegations of sexual assault against him,” to “engage in candid dialogue with the public” and “to acknowledge the severity of this issue in the manner in which these responses are carried out.” Jack Coyne’s well-reasoned opinion in the Carletonian a few weeks ago, which explored these allegations and their implications for the party in more depth, importantly acknowledged that the excuse that many prominent Democrats have used when confronted with the allegations against Biden, that he has always been a champion for women. As an organization, CarlDems hopes that party leadership can move away from creating excuses for men in our own party who are accused of assault. Most notably we have proven there is a will to do this in the case of former Senator Al Franken, and the stakes of this election should not be a reason to not hold candidates to similar standards. A third-party investigation is the first step that the Biden campaign should take if they hope to maintain the moral high ground in this election and gain wide support from young people and survivors who can feel secure in their decision to support him. 

It will be interesting to see how his campaign approaches youth engagement and the campaign ramps up in the summer. For now, we wait and see if and how his campaign will deal with these allegations apart from denouncing them and whether the Democratic Party will lead us to compromise our integrity to have to vote for the lesser of two people accused of assault. 

So, what can we do about the vital importance of this election when we have a potentially problematic and uninspiring candidate at the top of the ballot?

Recently, Jon Olson, a retired naval officer and occasional political science professor at Carleton won the DFL nomination for our state senate race in Northfield. Jacob Isaacs’ May 9 Carletonian opinion drew out some interesting points from that process, which I won’t get into here because the process is over, but I will say that I hope that Jon Olson can prove himself to be a candidate that students can get excited about. 

Regaining that senate seat would be huge. 

The Minnesota House is majority DFL while the Republicans control the Senate, and in order for us to be able to recover after this pandemic, getting a democratic majority in the state senate is going to be crucial. Further, getting the senate majority would be incredibly consequential for the redistricting process that will happen after this year’s census. 

We might not have the most exciting candidate at the top of the ticket, but we cannot allow that to lessen our support for our candidates, both for congress and the state House. If you are still in Minnesota or will be returning this summer, you can already request your absentee ballot for the August and November elections.

We work to keep Tina Smith in the senate and Angie Craig in congress, Todd Lippert in the state House and work to get Jon Olson elected to the state Senate. Carleton students stepped up in a big way in 2018, voting in higher numbers than in 2016. For the 2020 election, we need to move beyond just committing to vote, by finding and engaging with the campaigns that we want to support, in our home states and in Northfield. Most of this work is pretty easy to do right from your couch (textbanking, phonebanking, writing letters), doesn’t take much of your time, and makes a massive impact, particularly for down-ballot races. People will likely be more disillusioned and fatigued this election cycle due to the pandemic, so this work is even more crucial. Whether or not we are energized by our presidential nominee, we have got to get people excited and out to vote for candidates at the local and state levels.

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