Young Democrat James Cerasia on Engaging Young Voters

Law student James Cerasia, who is the Chair of the Pima County Young Democrats Task Force, spoke at the Democrats of Greater Tucson meeting on October 31, 2022. At age 26, he described the challenges young voters face in finding a job, borrowing huge sums for college, being denied a home loan because of student debt, dealing with landlords who have inordinate power over tenants and losing personal and reproductive rights.

James is running to be the Recording Secretary of the Pima County Democratic Party. He is in his final year of law school at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.

He said it is difficult to recruit young people to the Democratic Party. “I really noticed this while doing a voter registration drive for younger people so frequently they are not choosing parties. They’re going independent and may lean towards one party or another, but they’re so tired of party politics. They’re going to be feeling for the candidate, which, what’s the candidate that speaks to me?”

“They want to find someone whom they feel they can follow and feel like this person’s a good leader. They don’t want to just see the D or the R next to their name. Is this person that I’m going to feel I can trust?”

“Because it feels like so many people in political offices have failed them. Look at the huge popularity of young people around Bernie Sanders — an independent senator running of course on the Democratic ticket. He gained so much popularity with younger people because he really spoke to them. He was talking to them about the gripes they’d been having with the system and the country and feeling that they were just stuck trying to follow their parents’ footsteps in a no longer available path. They turned away from traditional Democrats because Bernie was the person who was speaking to them,” Cerasia said.

Inspired by Hillary

I got involved with politics back in college. I was just a political science major. I was a pre-law major. I did not know what I was getting involved in, but I just liked the science behind politics. I thought it was interesting and intellectually stimulating, and my friend was working for the Clinton campaign, and I got on board with her and learned more about Clinton.

I was really taken with her. I really believed in her leadership. I liked her views. So, I got involved early in the primaries and, following that, I then went to DC, and I worked in other areas of politics.

I was able to look past the partisan divide. But it is stressful, it’s anxiety- provoking and it is scary.

But I feel involved and like this is my way to give back. I have a lot of ideas, and I have a lot of hope for the future as well. But to get there, we have to start taking account of our country’s actions. We must no longer wait around. We have to step up and do it ourselves. So, I think you’re seeing more younger people do that. But it’s a very big choice

U of A Campus Democrats

I’m friendly with the UA College Democrats, but they’re largely their own thing. They’re focused a lot more on national politics. But I know they’re looking at bringing this new administration to a more local level, which is exciting.

The Young Democrats Task Force partnered together to get events out with them. They’re busy with school, and I can’t blame them. I’m busy with school, with myself and getting young people involved to get out the vote. Mission for Arizona has been taking over. They’re doing most of the get-out-the-vote effort and doing a lot of the voter registration on the campuses. We let them do that.

I registered many people at our college and organize events to get people involved. But other than that, it’s difficult. We rely on outside sources as well. The Young Democrats Task Force is a very small group, and they’re largely all working, or in school, so there’s much that we can do outside of registering people and having these conversations with our friends and family and trying to have different events.

Jan. 6 insurrection

I also spend time in circles of mostly Democrats, and I don’t really know many younger Republicans. But at least from the people that I’ve met and I interact with, the January 6 insurrection is very deplorable.

Even for those that are a bit more Republican-leaning, the event itself is deplorable. And it’s scary. , So many young people were the ones that were turning in the January 6th rioters. Young people said, “Oh, that’s my dad,” or, “Oh, that’s my neighbor,” or “That’s my teacher.” Here you go,, FBI. They took it upon themselves to stand up for democracy as opposed to lasting ramifications”

The insurrectionists, “are not going away no matter what. We can keep voting against the candidates they put up, but, they’re just going to keep putting up more candidates like that every next time around. I think this will take more than just elections to fix.

There’s a deep divide in this country. And I wish I had the answer of how that’s supposed to be fixed. But I don’t think that simply voting away their candidate is going to be the answer because they’re just going to come back the next one.

Pandora’s Box has been opened. I think that there’s something that’s got to be addressed, There are thoughts and concerns that the country has on both sides. And, people are being lied to, but there are some specific grievances that they have as well.

The election denial, that’s wrong. But these people are also being lied to. And I think they should be better educated on how to tell what’s, false news and what is to be believed. So they’re not going away right now. How do we deal with it?


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