Andy Kim speaks to U. Democrats, students about domestic, international political issues

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On Thursday, Rutgers Democrats and RU for Andy Kim hosted a Senate campaign event with Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) at the College Avenue Student Center.

Earlier this week, Tammy Murphy, First Lady of New Jersey, bowed out of the Senate race, as reported previously by The Daily Targum. Without any opposition from her or Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Kim is now expected to win the party’s nomination.  

The event was moderated by Ethan Block, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and founder of RU for Andy Kim, and Maddy Verdone, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and president of the Rutgers Democrats. 

The moderators asked questions submitted in advance by students and the community, touching upon topics such as Kim’s ongoing lawsuit against the design of New Jersey ballots, bipartisanship, the Israel-Hamas war and political infrastructure and funding. 

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Regarding his lawsuit, which targets the “county line,” a ballot design that places candidates endorsed by county leaders in the same column, while placing unendorsed candidates farther on the ballot, as reported by The New York Times, Kim said he hopes a ruling in favor of his side could increase inclusivity in state democratic proceedings.

When asked about his plans to work with Republicans, Kim cited some bipartisan legislation he voted for but also criticized the tactics of his GOP colleagues as being more attention-seeking than professional.

“We have the most incompetent and extremist Speaker of the House (Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La.) that I’ve ever seen in American history,” he said. “I work alongside people who … don’t even want to do the job — they’re more interested in being social influencers rather than lawmakers.”

When discussing his stance on the Israel-Hamas war, Kim restated his support for a bilateral ceasefire and said violence in the region poses a threat to all. He also said politics should not impact his party’s response to the crisis.

On the topic of government transparency, Kim pledged his support to end gerrymandering and prohibit members of Congress from participating in the stock market. He also criticized the National Rifle Association and other political action committees for their large contributions to campaigns.

Kim also discussed issues that have historically been found to be significant to Generation Z voters, such as climate, gender parity, climate change solutions and artificial intelligence (AI). 

While discussing nuclear energy, a tool that can be used to bring global carbon expenditures down and combat climate change, which is an issue that Generation Z voters are expected to prioritize as per a poll from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, Kim said he is interested in expanding the use of such power.

At the same time, he is unsure whether the country widely supports its use or has the ability to adopt it quickly.

On the topic of gender parity, Kim pledged his support for transgender youth. His remarks come during a year where more than 538 bills restricting the rights of the transgender community have been introduced across 41 U.S. states, according to Trans Legislation Tracker.

“(LGBTQ+ rights) is the civil rights fight of our generation,” he said. “This is going to be one of (the Democrats’) biggest priorities.”

When discussing the U.S. House’s recent bill to ban TikTok unless it is sold to a firm based outside China, Kim said he would have voted no had he been present. A decision to ban the app in the country could prove detrimental to gaining the support of younger Democrats, according to an article from POLITICO.

He added that he would like to see more action taken against data collection in general and acknowledged the perspective his age plays in his understanding of social media and digital tools.

“We’re ignoring the actual heart of the problem, which is the fact that Congress is constantly failing to react to very fast changes in our technology,” Kim said. “We’ve got a lot of other Senators we’ve seen in hearings having trouble understanding how social media works and the internet works.”

He expanded on this later when discussing restrictions he would like to see, potentially in collaboration with overseas allies, to monitor AI.

Throughout his remarks, Kim criticized what he perceived to be arrogance in politics. He said politicians do not need to project bulleted solutions to every political issue. Instead, they should be willing to connect and work with their constituents. Additionally, Kim centered his campaign pitch on reform and normalcy in government.

“When you look at our politics right now, and you see all the craziness and the chaos that’s going on … It doesn’t have to be this way,” Kim said in his opening remarks. “I’m going to do my part to try to steer it in a better way.”

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