I was in Denver covering the Democratic National Convention for my university's news service, courtesy of the graduate program that runs my life, so I had no time for anything else while I was there, and usually lacked an Internet connection. Welcome to blogger hell, friends.
The whole experience was physically and mentally exhausting and frustrating. The logistics of dealing with press restrictions once on site made it tough to get good shots. Being in a hotel 45 minutes away from the center of the action and another half hour from the group I was covering was daunting. The worst? The lack of time online to write, upload and edit that proved to me that I am not a print person, once and for all. (Also? The altitude is no joke if you're not used to it. I was the walking winded and more parched than all of you at Burning Man, seriously.)
But by the time Stevie Wonder took the stage on Thursday night and the buzz in Invesco Field reached heights I've never personally experienced, the curtains of my professional bias closed and I realized just how amazing it was to be there - within that physical structure and in a city that for a few days played host to what I honestly believe in the most overblown of terms imaginable was a turning point in our history.
I'm here to talk about young Dems - about the generation
that the campaigns say the future hinges upon, although some people
under 30 (or even 40 - youth is a relative definition these days) say
they're not sure they're entirely heard, at least not in the official
channels that - when it comes down to it - truly determine who takes
the top spot.
Some of these young people are on the trail blogging, taking and uploading thousands of photos and videos , writing endless posts and articles with their take on the action. Others are going on the official party line, serving as state delegates and pages, attending ridiculously early delegation breakfasts, sitting in caucus meetings, and finally taking to the floor to watch the candidates speak.
Sarah Burris from Kansas is a Rock the Trail blogger who also blogged the DNC for FutureWatch. She blogged about the Human Rights Campaign's Rock to Win concert featuring Cyndi Lauper, Rufus Wainwright and Melissa Etheridge (wow!)
The concert began with a short press conference where all agreed that
young voters were essential to the election in November. Cindy Lauper
said it was important for all people to vote, and that was a key
component for her concert with the HRC as well as her national True
(Burris crossposted at Everyday Citizen, where she is a founding blogger, and all of her Future Majority posts are collected here. Her bio there says she's "always happy to talk to fellow young people about elections,
organizing, and new media. You may contact her at sarahkatheryn at
gmail dot com.")
The Human Rights Campaign itself runs Generation Equality (GenEQ), that "helps queer youth go from being out to being active by providing the
skills, tools and knowledge to make full GLBT equality a reality."
Sarah Grainger was all over the DNC, and wrote at MomoCrats about the up-and-coming party leaders, specifically A'shanti Fayshel Gholar, DNC Youth Council Director, Secretary of the Nevada State Democratic Party and Vice-President of Young Democrats of America.
One of the things I didn't expect with the Democratic National
Convention was the large youth contingent. I don't know why, really,
because it's not like I haven't been somewhat tapped into what they've
been doing; I just didn't realize how major a force they were becoming.
When I was in college, the people I knew who were involved in politics
seemed to be doing it for the wrong reasons, so I was turned off to the
idea...(A'shanti) has her finger on the pulse of the young Democrats and is eloquent
as well. It's inspiring to see all of the new young leaders in the
Democratic party that were at the DNCC this week participating in a
wide range of events
The Young Democrats of America have a blog too. The latest post was about Got Tuition?, an organization focused on college affordability that currently features a contest sponsored by the National Education Association and the Huffington Post. The creator of the best video gets $1,000 towards school and the chance to blog on Huffington Post about college affordability.
College financing is a serious issue for many young voters. Got Tuition's mission, which they were pleased to hear echoed in Joe Biden's nomination speech on Wednesday:
bringing the issue of college affordability and the long term impacts of
student loan debt to the forefront of our national debate. If our nation is to maintain its status in the world, we must
ensure access to our colleges, vocational schools and universities to
everyone who wants to pursue the dream of higher education.
Politics West blogger Jackie Borchardt at the Denver Post wrote about an encounter with a politician on the first night of the DNC. (Sarah Burris blogged about Jackie as well, speaking of her disappointment with lip service to youth involvement from other politicians and Hollywood.)
"We need more young people like you," a California delegate said to me while I slurped a lemonade outside the convention hall.
I set the record straight: I'm not here for Democratic Party business.
I'm a journalist here to learn about the relationship between the news
media and politics.
Still, he said, the world needs more aware young people.
Message to other 23 year olds who might be walking around the Pepsi
Center this week: you are carrying a lot of weight. Whether or not the
"youth vote" exists, people are paying attention to the presence of
youth in this convention.
Lily Gold is a student at Germantown High School in Philadelphia and a guest blogger at the Y-Decide 2008/WHYY blog for the DNC. She quickly learned, along with the rest of us there, that credentials are hard to come by - and boy do you need them.
What I mean to say is, there were no credentials left.
Pennsylvania is unique in the way that, instead of distributing extra
credentials among the delegates themselves, each delegate enters their
name in a raffle and the winning names get credentials. Hefty sigh for
us hoepful high schoolers. But don’t count on this correspondent to be
down and out so fast- I networked at this breakfast more than I do on Facebook, and trust me, I am on Facebook a lot.
There were 631 delegates under the age of 36 in Denver – 28 super
delegates, 118 alternates, 55 standing committee members, and 74 pages. The number of delegates 35 and younger has almost doubled in eight years, to about 16 percent from 2000's nine percent. There were only four delegates under 30 in my state of Maryland, but some states are obviously doing better.
Rebecca McDonald at the Rock the Vote blog wrote about the youngest delegate, 17-year-old David Gilbert-Pederson from Minnesota, and his state colleague, 23-year-old Douglas Wiliams, and their road trip from Minnesota to Denver. The two not only crossed the age divide, but also a racial perception in Minnesota.
They began this historic process well before stepping into the car.
David recalls, “I feel like we both went in and busted up the old boys
club in our respective races.”
Their ascension on the City of
Denver, CO is history in the making. As 2 of 50 people of color in the
Minnesota delegation, this road trip duo is destined to change the face
of the Democratic Party. “Out of 109 delegates from Minnesota, 50 of
them are people of color.” Douglas continues, “When you think of our
state, you think of movies like Fargo where there aren’t any Black
people. But guess what, we do have diversity!”
I am currently writing from Denver, Colorado,
where I am at the Democratic National Convention! At age 18, I am the
youngest member of the Ohio delegation, and one of the youngest in the
country. The convention is at the same time exhausting and incredibly
exhilarating! Being a delegate is an amazing opportunity, since there
are few better ways to gain exposure to party politics. I was elected
as a Hillary Clinton delegate back in January for Ohio's 14th
Congressional District, and after the March 4th primary, Clinton's
success in my district ensured that I would be attending the DNC. Since
then, it had been a whirlwind of planning and preparing with the Ohio
Democratic Party. Sunday, I left my Rice University freshman
orientation to fly to Denver.
Kay Steiger at Pushback posted this video from a female college student, 21, who drove to Denver from Missouri thinking she could "make a difference" by volunteering at the DNC. The economy is her top concern.
Finally, I spent some time with Tashea Brodgins, president of the Baltimore City Young Democrats and a Marylander concerned about her ability to participate with many older delegates entrenched and the small number of delegates allowed. Credentials were hard to come by for Tashea and other young people, she said, but Maryland Democratic Party leaders had been there to help her out.
She said that no matter how hard it was, it was worth it to be a part of this event. With political aspirations of her own, she refuted claims of some longer-serving delegates who said the newbies were in it for the moment. She said that she's in it for the long haul.
Laurie White writes at LaurieWrites.