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BernEaters and College Republicans Readjust Post-Election

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By Ashley Duong

With the results of the 2016 presidential election finalized, various political groups on campus are gearing up for the next four years under a new Commander in Chief.

The College Republicans of UCI (CRUCI), who endorsed now-president-elect Donald Trump throughout his campaign, hope to continue spreading their message of conservatism on campus. Ariana Rowlands, president of CRUCI, recognized the divisiveness of the election and believes that the “Republican Party has to do some rebuilding and uniting … [and] the factions of conservatism will have to find common ground and common goals and work together to achieve those goals.”

She said that the election cycle “exposed many problems with the political process that, before, were less known by the electorate” and believes that the road to unity won’t be easy, but is still achievable.

Prior to the election, Rowlands anticipated that “the [conservative] movement would only become more relevant as conservatism becomes the new counterculture.”

With the election of Donald Trump as the next president, Rowlands is excited to see a change in conservative college students expressing their views.

“I think more conservatives on campus will begin to emerge and … with the surprising election of Donald Trump, people will be more open to the conservative perspective,” said Rowlands. “The role of our group on campus has definitely changed since the election.”

Meanwhile, board members of UCI’s BernEaters, Aya Labanieh, Cassius Rutherford and William Léonard have been focused on grassroots efforts and local elections, an echo of the sentiments that previous Democratic primary candidate, Bernie Sanders, encouraged. The BernEaters were heavily involved with the campaign of Farrah Khan, who ran for Irvine City Council.

“After the primaries … we’ve been really involved with local campaigns and races … immersing ourselves in local politics and that’s where our energy has kind of shifted,” said Rutherford, explaining what the BernEaters have been focused on since the end of Sanders’ campaign for the presidential election. “Like Bernie said, since we couldn’t get what we hoped to achieve on the national level, we really have to work harder at local levels.”

“We’re now looking ahead at climate action plans for the city … which is something more positive, since we see a lot of anti-Trump movements and that hasn’t proven to be effective,” Labanieh added.

Had Clinton won the presidency, the BernEaters board members anticipated that their club’s agenda would have shifted to keeping the president accountable to the progressive initiatives she said she supported, and even encouraging Clinton to become even more progressive rather than maintaining her moderate views.

However, with the unexpected results of the election, their agendas have shifted to “A, keeping the world from burning and B, trying [their] best to create grassroots efforts in Irvine and …  starting a movement from the ground up,” according to Labanieh.

“Our agenda hasn’t really changed. We just recognize that it’s going to be an even more challenging and harder battle for progressivism, especially with Trump as the president-elect,” Rutherford concluded.

Commenting on lessons that could be learned from the disappointing loss for the Democratic Party, Labanieh reflected on the party’s choice of Clinton as their candidate.

“We’ve learned that establishment democrats don’t work … and that the Democratic Party failed to fire people up to go vote,” said Labanieh. “The Republicans really were fired up and ready to go out and vote and that’s what the Democrats didn’t do … we were also very smug and confident that Clinton was going to win.”

Moving forward, the BernEaters are looking to join forces with the UCI College Democrats and revolutionize the Democratic Party.

“We’ve been collaborating with the College Democrats throughout the quarter …  and at the end of the year … we’re probably going to do something along the lines of combining,” said Labanieh. “Combining the efforts will hopefully be a way of transforming the Democratic party into a more progressive party.”