Sophomore Casey Pease Debates the Future of the Democratic Party at Clark University

Casey PeaseCasey Pease / Photo Credit: Ebru Kardan
Thursday, February 16, 2017

Within weeks of his first year at UMass Amherst, Casey Pease was already well on his way to establishing himself as a major political leader on campus. By October 2015 – a month into his first term - he had already co-founded the group UMass for Bernie Sanders, become the youngest full-time staffer on the Sanders campaign, and co-organized a rally on campus attended by hundreds in support of the candidate. Most recently, he was invited to debate at Clark University to share his ideas for the future of the Democratic Party.

The Clark University event was organized by the student run Society for Political Engagement, Civic Thought, Research, and Advocacy (SPECTRA) to address questions like “Was the 2016 election just a fluke? Will being the party out of power give Democrats a leg up? How can progressives defeat President Trump's policies and party?” As a political science major, Chair of the Environmental Caucus for the College Democrats of Massachusetts, and the 1st Congressional District Director for the Young Democrats of Massachusetts, Pease clearly had the knowledge and experience to speak to these questions and concerns.

“My biggest concern for the party is the lack of commitment and investment in grassroots,” Pease told us. His ideas to solve this problem? A fifty state strategy where the DNC invests in each state's party, and focuses on winning seats in state legislators and governorships;

A new youth outreach plan that includes having more college organizers, social media campaigns, and an investment in the College Democrats of America and Young Democrats of America; and taking a look at the success of the grassroots in the Bernie and Obama campaigns.

Pease’s interest in politics didn’t begin at UMass, and goes back to his upbringing and family life. “Growing up, it was normal in my family to discuss different contemporary political issues. My grandmother was also the first woman elected to the Selectboard in town where she served in that role for 25 years. She helped instill a strong sense of civic responsibility in me.” In the past year and a half, he has given a number of talks on politics, community engagement, and his experience as the youngest staffer on the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.

Looking ahead, Pease hopes to work in the Massachusetts Statehouse and eventually run for a state legislative seat.