Ahead of the 2020 presidential election, Penn’s political clubs are focusing on voter advocacy and registration – but not endorsing any candidates just yet.
Penn Democrats are looking to help students register to vote in Pennsylvania, and the Penn Government and Politics Association (GPA) is gathering students to discuss issues relevant to the election. College Republicans are planning on engaging Republicans on Penn's campus by inviting speakers to events.
However, Penn Dems and GPA are not currently endorsing any presidential candidate, as GPA is nonpartisan and Penn Dems are waiting until later in 2020 to endorse a candidate.
The three groups are planning on hosting prominent political speakers, with Penn Dems hosting Pennsylvania state representative Brian Sims and GPA hoping to invite Penn Presidential Professor of Practice Jeb Bush again. In Oct. 2018, Bush spoke in an event organized by the GPA's Penn Political Union and warned of the dangers of partisan politics.
College Republicans are also planning to have conservative blogger and Michelle Malkin speak to the group.
“Penn College Republicans is thrilled to have an array of incredible events this upcoming academic year to energize Republicans on campus and in the Philadelphia community," College Republicans Communications Director and Wharton sophomore Corey Paredes said in an email. "From debate watch parties to big-name speakers such as author Michelle Malkin, this year will be one to remember as we race to the 2020 election."
The political clubs are also eyeing the first weeks of schools as a venue to get more first-years involved. Penn Dems are planning to engage with freshmen in tabling efforts in order to ensure that students have their voter information up to date and can vote in Philadelphia for their four years at Penn.
“Because 2020 is a really big election year, we want to make sure that people who have a moderate interest in politics or are looking for a way to get involved have that opportunity to,” Penn Dems Communications Director and College sophomore Tamara Wurman said.
Similarly, GPA President and College junior Justin Greenman said the group is likely to partner with Penn Leads the Vote to register students. The group has also held a number of debates in the opening week of school regarding global current events.
“We’re not obviously going to be campaigning for anybody or endorsing any candidates,” Greenman added, referencing the GPA’s nonpartisan nature. “One of the things that we try to do is try to inform Penn students and the general public about various issues that are going on.”
GPA’s magazine, Political Review, is releasing its first issue of the school year on Aug. 29, in time for the Students Activities Fair.
The Political Union branch of the GPA, which hosts formal debates and speaker events, held a debate last week about whether the United States should get politically or economically involved in the Hong Kong protests.
The Polybian Society, GPA's informal discussion group, also hosted a New Student Orientation debate set around taxes, tariffs, and trade.
Wurman, who is a Daily Pennsylvanian staffer, added that the Dems are planning to phone bank or canvass for the 2019 local elections. However, Wurman said the group would not need to spend much effort because “Philly itself is very Democratic.”
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