Campus based group endorses progressive candidates accross nation

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Our Democracy USA is a student-led organization based at Marquette that supports progressive candidates in various states across the U.S. The group also encourages racial minorities, young adults and the LGBTQ+ community to vote. Candidates that are supported by Our Democracy USA share common ideas of affordable healthcare, strengthening the middle class, increased funding for public education and climate change.

Brian Hendricks, a third-year law student, said he created the group last March because of the upcoming election.

“This would be the most important election year in recent history,” Hendricks said. “I also knew that young people were going to play an important role, especially here in Wisconsin. I wanted to create a platform for a way for young people to engage in the political process and feel more excited about politics.”

Anthony Shiffra, a member of Our Democracy USA and senior at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, briefly mentioned what types of progressive candidates the group supports. 

Our Democracy USA is not affiliated with any political party,” Shiffra said in an email. “The organization supports progressive candidates, but does not maintain any official connection with their campaigns.” 

Hendricks added that the progressive candidates chosen to be endorsed by Our Democracy USA are people that will be making a change within communities. 

“We believe that they will address some of the most pressing issues affecting communities across the nation,” Hendricks said. “The organization engages in some issue advocacy, both state and federal.”

Despite Our Democracy USA being based in Wisconsin, there is support for progressive candidates in other states.

“We have a couple candidates in Florida, one endorsed in Missouri, and two in Tennessee,” Hendricks said. “Although the organization is based in Wisconsin, I wanted it to have a national reach because getting those young people and other underrepresented groups involved in politics is an important goal across the country, not just Wisconsin.”

Shiffra said there are no necessary prerequisites or requirements needed to join this group. 

There are no specific requirements to joining the team – just a commitment to the organization’s mission and an interest in learning more about the political process,” Shiffra said in an email. 

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic going on, Our Democracy USA continues to provide opportunities for its members to be a part of the progressive candidates’ campaigns. 

“We are given assignments to look into certain topics related to the organization such as federal election commission, filing requirements, current events and more,” Shiffra said in an email. “With COVID-19, we haven’t had any in person events, but we have had the opportunity to volunteer at a phone bank for the candidates the organization has supported.”

Hendricks said volunteers and interns do an immense amount of work for the organization.   

“We have the interns that work on a daily basis handle a lot of the day-to-day tasks, but we’re always open to volunteers coming in and just helping out whenever they have time, in terms of calling voters,” Hendricks said. 

Additionally, Hendricks mentioned a few responsibilities that are associated with becoming an intern.

“Interns handle a lot of different things, from calling voters to more extensive research projects,” Hendricks said. “They help out with filings and keep an eye out for the news if they see any articles of interest. They have written press releases in the past, so a lot of research and writing tasks.” 

Shiffra added that the interns within Our Democracy USA are located all over the U.S.

“The organization offers internship opportunities to both high school and college students nationwide,” Shiffra said in an email. “All of the team members can work remotely, which has been especially helpful during the pandemic. At one time there were more than a dozen interns in more than a dozen states.”

This story was written by Natalija Mileusnic, she can be reached at natalija.mileusnic@marquette.edu