The College Democrats at Hopkins (HopDems) issued an official statement on April 13 endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
“[We are] excited to endorse Vice President Biden and fight alongside him for a brighter, more progressive future. Our goal always has been, and will be, to unite the Democratic Party, work together to defeat Donald Trump and take back the White House,” the statement read.
The endorsement was issued in response to the suspension of Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign, leaving Biden as the presumptive Democratic nominee in the 2020 presidential election.
In an email to The News-Letter, HopDems Co-President Ryan Ebrahimy explained that the group had purposefully held back its endorsement until members felt the Democratic nominee was certain.
“We waited until now to endorse Biden because this primary season has been incredibly exciting and divisive to so many in the Democratic Party, and we wanted to remain as neutral as possible in order to afford candidates and students the respect to form their own decisions. Additionally, our own board members were split in their vision for the Democratic Party, so waiting to endorse also meant respecting intragroup beliefs,” he wrote.
Fellow HopDems Co-President Sylvana Schaffer said that although Biden was not her favorite candidate, she believes that it is HopDems’ responsibility to support the Democratic Party’s nominee.
“Even though there’s lots of issues with Biden and he’s not a lot of people’s ideal candidate... he is currently the only chance we have to defeat Trump, and that is the end goal at all costs,” she said. “As the wing of the Democratic Party on campus, we felt that it was our responsibility to try to get people to rally behind him.”
Ebrahimy agreed with Schaffer, stressing that beating Trump requires solidarity among Democrats.
“The damage that this administration has already done is palpable,” he said. “No matter how energetic this primary season was or how invested people were for different candidates and their causes, we have to, at the end of the day, never forget the stakes that 2020 poses. The threats to our democracy and to the livelihood of so many at-risk communities will only be amplified with four more years of Trump.”
Nevertheless, Biden being the presumptive nominee has disappointed some Democrats at Hopkins.
Junior Sam Schatmeyer, who supported Sanders’ campaign, said that while he understood HopDems’ decision to endorse Biden, he had hoped for another outcome.
“It’s disappointing to see a lot of the more progressive policies lose out in the primary’s battle of ideas. That being said, we’ve got to get Donald Trump out of office. Even if it’s a corporate Democrat, the differences between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party on issues that really matter are a lot greater than I think a lot of people appreciate,” he said.
Although freshman Lubna Azmi, a HopDems member, wishes that Biden were not the presumptive nominee, she saw no other choice but to put her apprehensions aside.
“It’s really unfortunate that he is our candidate given the sexual assault allegations against him... but I see how big of a threat Donald Trump is, and I think that a majority of the people who voted within Democratic Party see the same thing. We just need to get this guy out because he’s incompetent,” she said. “As bad as Joe Biden is, Trump is so much worse.”
Vice President of the College Republicans Brad Presson told The News-Letter in an email that he was personally glad about the endorsement, even though he disagrees with Biden’s fiscal policies.
“It is great that HopDems are endorsing Joe Biden,” he wrote. “The choice to support any candidate represents the great democracy of our country.”
He added that he would be open to collaborating with HopDems in the future, specifying that he was not speaking on behalf of College Republicans.
As a result of the University’s response to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, HopDems has been forced to cancel several events related to the 2020 elections.
Schaffer described the COVID-19 pandemic as a double-edged sword for HopDems. She believes that though events have been cancelled and people are focusing less on the presidential election, students are also getting a firsthand view of how policy can affect a country.
“People are understandably paying less attention, but at the same time I think more people are realizing just how important it is who our leaders are in a crisis,” she said.
Ebrahimy hopes that students will use quarantine to become more politically active.
“Digital political organizing is more important now than it has ever been. We can continue mobilizing students in the digital space,” he wrote. “Campus closure also affords students the time to become more politically informed through being updated with the news as well as researching key issues and, with classes now being pass/fail, they are able to pursue more extracurricular involvements related to civic engagement.”
Chris Park, the Communications Chair for HopDems, is a staff writer for The News-Letter. He did not contribute reporting, writing or editing to this article.