By: Caitlyn Richtman
How do you keep going when you lose? Even worse, how do you keep going when you feel like you’ve already won it all? These are some of the questions American political activists asked themselves ever since the divisive 2016 Presidential Election. Even though the election was a devastating blow to Democrat morale and an extreme ego boost to Republicans, there was no time to relax for either party because, as anyone who keeps up with American politics knows, it never ends.
In the little over a year that Republicans have had control of the executive branch of government, people on both sides of the political spectrum have steadily registered voters, protested and attended rallies to support issues important to their party, all in preparation for midterm elections.
Along with a Republican president in office, Republicans also have the majority in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate which has sparked fierce campaigning from Democrats to flip Congress in 2018 to a Democratic majority. For Georgians voting for national politics in November, all 14 seats delegated to Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives will be up for election. The congressional district that holds Athens, District 10, which is currently represented by Jody Hice (R) is part of the upcoming election. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson, the Georgia senators in the U.S. Senate, are up for re-election in 2020 and 2022, respectively.
For state level Georgia politics, several positions will be up for grabs. Nathan Deal has reached his two-term limit for Georgia governor, and some big names in Georgia politics are running to take his place including Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R) and former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D). For people registered in Athens, Frank Ginn (R), the District 47 State Senator, is running for re-election.
Both state and national elections will take place, Nov. 6.
For more localized politics, Athens is on the market for a new mayor with Nancy Denson reaching her two-term limit. The mayoral election is nonpartisan. Other local positions, such as commissioners and school board members will be voted on May 22.
As for how University of Georgia students can get involved, there are multiple organizations on campus with their eye on the prize for both May and November.
For Ruth Pannill, the 2017-2018 president of Young Democrats of UGA, being involved in Athens politics is crucial. “As students of UGA, we are incredibly privileged in a way that many people in this town are not,” Pannill says over email. “So many joyous times in our lives happen in Athens, and the least we can do is work towards creating a better future for the people that have lived and always will live here.”
Year-round, the Young Democrats hold weekly meetings, but to get ready for the upcoming elections they will host candidates at their meetings so UGA students get informed about their policies. Later in the year, they will hold a training session on “field operations” on a campaign such as phone banking, canvassing and other campaign tools.
The Young Democrats of UGA hold meetings every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Miller Learning Center.
The UGA College Republicans were unable to be reached for this article, but for UGA students more interested in conservative politics, the organization meets on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. in the MLC.
For students interested in promoting conservatism rather than republicanism, UGA is home to a chapter of Turning Point USA, a group that promotes conservative political views. For Erin Cooke, Turning Point USA’s president, one word to describe what keeps people motivated in politics is “passion.”
“The cool thing about American democracy is that we all want the best for the country. We just have different angles of viewing what the solution is,” Cooke says.
Turning Point USA meets every Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the MLC.
A liberal leaning, Athens-centric political organization for UGA students is Athens for Everyone at UGA. The organization focuses mostly on policy changes at UGA, but also supports the greater Athens for Everyone’s mission to advance social and economic justice in Athens.
According to Jackson Leake, coordinator for Athens for Everyone at UGA, sometimes politics “just don’t come to fruition,” but people must keep going.
Athens for Everyone at UGA meets bi-monthly on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on campus.
For nonpartisan students, Democracy Matters at UGA is dedicated to preserving and expanding democratic rights without taking sides in politics. To get ready for upcoming elections, the organization will focus on registering voters to get as many people involved in politics as possible. According to Max Rogers, Democracy Matter’s president, it is important to be politically active because no one can be “entirely satisfied with the state of our nation.”
November may seem far away, but being an informed voter takes research and attention. Even after the 2018 elections come and go, politics never sleep.