Debate Camp

October 5, 2016

As the presidential election gets closer, I’d like to remind everyone to go register to vote! Almost everything is riding on this election. I watched the presidential debate and thoroughly enjoyed the slow deterioration of Donald Trump’s ability to hold his composure for 10 minutes as much as Hillary Clinton did. She was laughing about as much as I did near the end of the debate. Afterwards, there can be no doubt that from the two candidates from the two major parties, there is only one who’s prepared to be President of the United States. I’ll let everyone at home shout her name and fist pump the air.

As I write this blog post, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence are about to duke it out in a vice-presidential debate. Aside, from all the fanfare this election is gaining I’d like to send out a tiny PSA: voting is not a fad that’s "in" every 4 years. Voting is for life, not only for the President but for the House and Senate seats up for re-election and for the future mid-term elections. Congressional and senate races are elections where voting matters the most. For example, there are elections in Arizona, district one and two, where 200-1,000 votes can mean a Democrat or Republican sits in office. We have the power to shift the dynamics in our government.

I was reminded of how important our generation will be in shaping the future of our government in my first night of my core UCDC class. Carl Wagner, who was the political organizer and national field director for Ted Kennedy’s campaign, spoke in my class about the trends and rise of millennial voters in presidential elections; more importantly, how we millennials are the future shapers of American politics and how he trusts our generation. It was refreshing to say the least to hear a speaker place faith in millennials rather than disdain and mistrust. However, his words also reminded me that millennials need to vote in mid-term elections. The presidential election is important but without a congress to match, the social movements and policy changes we are passionate about during the presidential election will only stop short in November.

With that being said, voting is certainly not the only method of political participation. As a Berkeley student, I’ve seen my fair share of protests and civil disobedience; both are legitimate forms of civic engagement. The voting process is not perfect; many cannot get work or classes off to go out and vote, and depending on state voting laws there may be several ID hurdles for voters. I understand that voting in representatives to enact change may seem farfetched, even futile to the cynical. However, I repeat: voting is not a fad. Don’t expect voting to bear immediate fruits; voting does not pay off in single elections; it is a concerted effort over time. Also, both forms of political participation are not mutually exclusive. Engage in both (voting as a form of protest is certainly a discussion for another time).

That’s the end of my PSA. To end on a lighter note, please spend some time watching congressional political ads. At work, I look at a ton of ads our consultant groups make; some are better than others and most are atypical. Then there are political ads that we didn’t make and deserve a shout-out. There’s an ad out right now that you can find on YouTube where a professor running for Congress made an ad with an Indiana Jones theme. Go look it up right now; it’ll definitely make your day.

headshot of Lydia Xia

Lydia is a fourth year pursuing a double major in political science and legal studies. She spent her first three years at Cal exploring the legal field, from her presidency in Law in Practice to working as a JusticeCorps member at the Oakland Superior Courthouse. Although these experiences brought her much personal growth, she realizes a career in law may not be for her. Lydia is looking forward to finally exploring the field of politics beyond her coursework. While she is in DC for the fall 2016 UCDC program, she will be researching the causes for political partisanship, specifically the role of money in causing the divide. She is excited for the new experiences awaiting her in DC. "I am really thankful to the Matsui Center for providing me with this amazing opportunity."