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Tracking COVID-19 at UCLA

Editorial: Political engagement and elections make a difference in democracy

By Editorial Board

Jan. 11, 2021 3:43 p.m.

Days after a violent siege of the nation’s capital and years after dangerous rhetoric from the commander-in-chief, members of Congress are beginning the process to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time in less than two years.

And it’s being led by one of our own.

Rep. Ted Lieu, whose district represents most of the Los Angeles Westside and the UCLA community, is one of several Democrats in the House of Representatives who drafted and cosponsored the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

The board applauds Lieu’s role in the attempt at an impeachment, whether it comes to fruition or not.

But more than anything else, this serves as tangible proof that elections matter.

Even just two districts north, Rep. Mike Garcia, who represents parts of northern LA County and eastern Ventura County, objected to the certification of election results even after the insurrection, which left five dead. Though the House of Representatives might be down ballot from the flashier titles, who we elect matters.

Because of its broad geographic diversity, UCLA’s student body can influence elections far beyond LA. Consider that a Missouri senator who only won by a little less than 6% of votes was the main perpetrator of the baseless claims of election fraud on the Senate floor.

To be clear, this crisis is not partisan. Following the events of Jan. 6, the U.S. Senate voted 93-6 against a challenge to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona. Instead, it is about electing those who will, at the very least, uphold American democracy in the face of rabid nationalism.

Whether this call to impeach succeeds is up to a handful of Republican senators who will have to put their votes where their mouths are and break with the previous attempt’s nearly party-line outcome.

Apathy will get us nowhere. It’s what led us into this situation in the first place – the low voter turnout in the 2016 national election was what likely allowed Trump to come into power.

As Inauguration Day approaches, the Democratic Party will have control over the executive branch and both chambers of Congress for the first time in a decade. At the same time, 147 members of Congress who objected to certifying electoral college votes – including self-professed followers of the far-right conspiracy theory credited with the insurrection at the Capitol – will be taking their oaths of office.

Voting for the lesser of two evils may not be the most palatable option, but rarely in American history has the greater evil entailed fanning the flames of a civil war. And whether another Trump-esque politician will run for office remains to be seen.

But as a student body, the least we can do is commit to a level of political engagement that prevents the election of politicians who will stand back and stand by as anti-American demagogues run wild.

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