A week after Election Day, the United States finally knows who its next leader will be: President-Elect Joe Biden.
The transfer of power from President Trump to Biden in January will undoubtedly bring about some changes within the U.S. But as the national focus is turned toward Washington, D.C., political groups at Ohio University and in Athens are planning ahead for local races in the coming years.
Despite having vastly different political views, groups like OU College Democrats, OU College Republicans, OU Moderates and the Democratic and Republican parties of Athens County all said that they will be operating business as usual, even with Biden in the White House for the next four years.
“We're going to do what we usually do,” Chase Conklin, a junior studying environmental geography and the president of OUCR, said. “Most of our stuff is just going to be recruitment based, and we're going to try to get more people involved in the club and involved in politics in general.”
Elanor Skees, the president of OUCD and a junior studying political science, said that the group would have moved forward the same way regardless of who won the election.
“We're going to continue to push for what we as an organization advocate for,” Skees said. “No matter who wins, there's always going to be things that we need to be fighting for as American citizens and things that we believe in.”
Skees’ words mirrored those of John Haseley, the Athens County Democratic Party chairman, who spoke about the importance of building on the foundation that has already been established.
“We’re building a really solid infrastructure in Athens County that we will continue to build as we look toward the statewide races that will occur in 2022 and the next presidential (election) in 2024,” Haseley said. “We're completely committed to maintaining a really strong presence and … working with neighboring counties to make sure that we all can grow our Democratic base together.”
With Biden in the Oval Office and Democrats projected to retain control of the House of Representatives, some may think that Republicans in Athens have an uphill battle ahead of them. Pete Couladis, chairman of the Athens County Republican Executive Committee, would offer another assessment.
“We've got local candidates and things like that to deal with,” Couladis said, adding that the events in the nation’s capital aren’t exactly noteworthy on a day-to-day basis. “I'm sure people are concerned about various issues in Washington … but we've got local elections … (that) we concentrate on.”
One OU political group in particular affords themselves a unique perspective in the middle of all of this polarizing election — OU Moderates.
“We are in a unique spot that a lot of other organizations on campus are not in,” Ryan Gwin, a sophomore studying early childhood and elementary education and the president of OUM, said. “When it comes to multiple ideas at a current time or multiple political issues at a current time, (we believe) that we can help … make this a better campus and make this a better organization.”
Despite all of the uncertainties of last week’s election, the outcome does not necessarily have as large an impact on the ways that political groups in and around Athens operate as do local races. It does have an impact, though, on the factions spreading in the U.S., something that Conklin is very invested in.
“We all need to come together,” Conklin said. “This country is so divided, and if we don't come together, I'm afraid of what could happen.”