Law school hopeful Aliah Rowe of Little Rock is a national leader for young Democrats. Brian Chilson

Fresh-faced Democratic dynamo Aliah Rowe of Little Rock is not as locally famous as you might expect. On the national stage, though, she’s a pretty big deal. Recently elected vice president of College Democrats of America, Rowe crams in her political leadership work between bartending shifts and law school applications.  

When did you launch your political career?

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I started getting interested in politics when I was 18, during my freshman year of college [at Arkansas State University]. That’s when I got involved with Young Democrats of Arkansas State. I became VP and then president, then got involved nationally in my junior and senior years. I was elected with the College Democrats of America in October.

Why did you cast your lot with the Democrats?

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I grew up in Arkansas. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily the most progressive state ever. I grew up in a unique position. As a Black woman, I see the world differently than my white counterparts. 

My grandma and mom were Democrats, and I was always Democrat but didn’t know why until 2016, when Donald Trump was running for president. I thought, there’s no way this guy who says anything that comes to his mind can be president. Obviously, the woman who’s more qualified will win. Obviously. But that didn’t happen.

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I want leaders who lead with empathy and believe in equality for everyone.

@amoneyy31

I love Arkansas, but come on man. Can a sister just get a few rights? 🤦🏽‍♀️ #fyp #foryoupage #arkansas #politics #redstates #democrat #republican #liberal #sarahhuckabeesanders

♬ Homesick – Noah Kahan

What keeps you engaged?

I want leaders who will understand that we should all have the right to govern our own bodies. The issues most important to me are bodily autonomy, equality and human rights. I think the Democratic Party embodies all of those. 

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My mom is mixed, half white and half Black. My grandma is white. They were big Obama fans. When Trump won, it was devastating to them. 

I was still in high school then, and when you’re 16 you feel like you can’t do anything. You can’t vote and you feel helpless. But then you realize that no, you’re not. There are so many things you can do! You can always volunteer for campaigns, knock on doors, phone bank. You can, at the very least, encourage people who you know to vote. You can work at polling places, put up signs. There’s so much you can do. 

Was Arkansas State a very politically active campus? Were there many Democrats there?

I wouldn’t say it’s a very political campus. If it is, it’s more conservative. When I started there in 2018 I took Intro to Politics, and there were maybe three Democrats in a class of 20. 

Our Young Dems chapter is a lot more active than the Republicans, but I think that’s due to Democrats having to work harder in this state. We have to work 10 steps ahead when it comes to elections. Maybe we know we won’t win, but if we turn out a lot of voters, that looks good for the next round.

It sounds like abortion rights are important to you. Why is that?

You can’t force someone to be a parent. There are so many reasons why people get abortions. If you want to stop abortions, banning them isn’t the right thing to do. Poverty is the No. 1 cause of someone getting an abortion.

I think before Dobbs everyone thought abortion access was untouchable. Once this happened, I feel like it really sent people into shock. We’re actually in danger. Some people don’t pay attention to politics because they think, ‘It doesn’t affect me.’ When it does hit close to home I think that makes people want to get involved. I think it definitely woke a lot of young people. Voter turnout really grew among Gen Z.

You also mentioned human rights. What do you mean by that?

Who you love, who you don’t love, the right to marriage is a human right. Abortion is a human right. The right to live the life you want to live, I think that’s a human right. For our trans youth, I don’t think they should be having so much hate sent their way. I think we should all have the right to live the life we want to live.  

Looking ahead, what’s your prediction for the 2024 elections?

I think Biden should run. That might be unpopular but I think he’s doing a really good job. He’s doing more than Obama did at this point. I think if he runs again, he will win.

Follows: Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers

College major: Economics and pre-law, with a minor in Spanish

Hobbies: Playing guitar and posting to TikTok, find her @amoneyy31