In the second part of a series exploring political activism on campus, the Justice spoke with the leaders of Young Americans for Liberty and Brandeis Democrats, both of which are oriented around a political ideology, and Swing Left, a group that seeks to secure more votes for the Democratic party.

While Brandeis Dems and YAL haven’t officially made any endorsements, Eliza Welty ’22, the vice president of Brandeis Dems, and Brandon Musto ’20, the president of YAL, shared their thoughts regarding the 2020 presidential election and the ideologies of their clubs.

Both clubs value curating an environment that allows different ideas to coexist. For example, Musto mentioned that YAL members do not share a unanimous view about reproductive rights, but YAL does not prevent them from exchanging ideas and supporting their political stances with reasons. In terms of members’ preferences for candidates, Musto said, “Many of our members aren’t too keen about either [party]. …  When I say libertarian, I’d imagine a lot of people say ‘Oh, conservative child!’ But most libertarians don’t vote for either party, and that is true for most of our club members.” He feels that “both parties are presented poorly” so that when it comes to voting in the 2020 election, it is a situation “where you can only choose from two bad sides.” 

When asked about the most pressing issues that they feel the next president should work on, Musto said they should reduce the amount of government spending. According to Musto, high deficits and national debts mean the stock market is not on safe ground, despite the open market policies carried out by the Federal Reserve. He suggests that there is a “fiscal responsibility” for the government to make cuts and keep the economy sustainable. However, he is not convinced that any candidate who is running for office will make substantial change, because he does not see anyone advocating for reducing government spending from either party. 

Welty, on the other hand, spoke about an array of issues that she believes need to be changed. She said, “Climate change is obviously incredibly important and time-sensitive, but this country has to make progress in the affordability of healthcare, fixing the broken and racist criminal justice system, reducing gun violence, ending corruption in politics, increasing the minimum wage, dealing with the student debt crisis, securing rights for LGBTQ+ people, protecting the right to vote and rebuilding relationships with allies around the world.”

Furthermore, Musto thinks that Brandeis should not be affected by the next presidency unless there is a drastic policy change as he believes that there must be a limit to the executive power. Welty said, however, “The truth is, as residents of this country, we are all affected by political decisions every day, whether we are paying attention to them or not. As we graduate and find our ways in the workforce and in this society, the next president will have the power to enact legislation and set the tone for this country.”

Not yet an officially chartered Brandeis organization, Swing Left is part of a national progressive group advocating for the Democratic party that arose after the election of President Trump. According to Holly Newman ’22, a college fellow on campus, her volunteers work to call voters to make sure that they know there is an election taking place and to reiterate basic voting information. For instance, her team sent over 200 letters to Virginian voters reminding them to vote for the Democratic party in the upcoming local election. By doing so, she believes it shows them a “human touch and personal side of politics.” Aside from that, they also helped with voter registration in some marginalized communities. 

Newman said that it was with the election of President Trump that she started to get involved with political movements, something that “she would not evision herself doing” but she saw a need to. Newman emphasized that there has been “a fight for democracy” which calls for a victory of the Democratic party. When asked about the most pressing issue for the next president to solve, Newman discussed gun violence and climate change. She concedes that “special interest buying votes is a big problem for both parties,” but she believes issues like the National Rifle Association are more serious. She said, “Democrats talking about the problems are more in line with the general public view.” On the other hand, she criticizes the Republican party for misinformation about gun culture. She also points out that the Republicans have been using fear tactics to mischaracterize the Democratic party, saying, “They are going to take all guns away.” Overall, she doubts the Republicans would take these issues seriously and believes that the Democratic Party would do a better job in taking actions to solve them.