By Jacob Pitts
The UAlbany College Democrats have split into two clubs ahead of the 2020 presidential elections, reflecting the widening of the divide between traditional and progressive democrats on a national level.
The UAlbany Young Democratic Socialists of America broke away from the College Democrats last semester in the hopes of focusing and tailoring their efforts on achieving a more progressive platform for the Democratic party.
President Jamus Socker started the club in the fall of 2019 when he found other members of the UAlbany College Democrats who shared his vision.
Socker said that an average meeting has 14 to 17 students in attendance, some who consider themselves Democrats and others who are disillusioned with the party but are still left-leaning. He added that some students who describe themselves as democratic socialists still remain with the College Democrats club.
The UAlbany YDSA meets in the Science Library basement, where every Saturday afternoon they make calls on behalf of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
They recently took to the podium to petition for Sanders and his delegates in the upcoming Democratic primaries, and they previously phone banked on behalf of Sanders for the Iowa caucus.
Meanwhile, the College Democrats are not endorsing a specific candidate for the 2020 primaries, but instead, encourage their individual members to phone bank for the candidates that they support.
College Democrats Vice President Bariela Capollari says that the club will be holding voter registration events in the coming weeks for the general election.
“We have a bit more of a universal and democratic idea of how politics, the economy, and our culture, in general, should work,” said YDSA President Socker of the difference between a traditional Democrat and a democratic socialist.
“The economy should be run democratically, your workplace should be run democratically, and our political system should be far more democratic than it currently is at all levels including the electoral college. Also, we staunchly believe that programs such as healthcare should be universal.”
Although Socker denies any bad blood between the two clubs, the need for a second one mirrors the Democratic Party’s schism on a national level.
Four years ago Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders in the previous democratic presidential primary, but now in his second bid, he has found himself a frontrunner.
Progressive figures such as Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have especially resonated with younger generations. YDSA Treasurer Christian Hollins said he attributes the following to the solutions they propose for the financial and social problems that students face.
“We’re buried in student debt, we can barely get jobs, and those jobs that we get, they don’t really pay that good of wages,” said Hollins. “We’re aware of these problems and we know that there are definitely solutions out there.”
Hollins said that politicians such as Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are the ones who point to the answers.
“We have to provide healthcare for everyone, we have to eliminate student debt because it’s a burden on all of us, we have to raise the minimum wage to 15 dollars per hour, and we have to fight climate change,” Hollins said.
For more information on all of the College Democrat clubs, visit https://www.albany.edu/myinvolvement/.