Tue September 4, 2012
Strong Youth Presence At DNC
There's a strong youth presence at the Democratic National Convention. Organizers say this year's convention has more delegates under age 35 than any previous one. And the DNC held a youth council Monday designed to inspire young people to get out the vote for President Obama.
You know you’re at an event that targets young people when the opening speaker tells everyone to share a video on social media.
"I think we all need to take that video and post it to Facebook and Twitter today to get all of our other friends fired up and ready to go," said Jason Rae, chair of the Democratic National Convention's youth council.
That phrase - fired up and ready to go - was the theme of the meeting. It was all about getting young people as excited in 2012 as they were in 2008, when they turned out in near-record numbers and voted overwhelmingly for President Obama.
Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee Patrick Gaspard told young people Monday they were the heart and soul of the 2008 campaign.
"Every time I hit the ground in one of these states, there were thousands of you coming out who had already cut up your turf, you already knew exactly what agency you had in this campaign and what ownership you had over it," Gaspard said.
But Gaspard said that enthusiasm waned when candidate Obama became President Obama. Buffy Wicks is in charge of targeting key voting groups for the Obama campaign, and she’s working to (again) get young people fired up and ready to go.
"The youth vote is one of the most important votes for us this election cycle," Wicks said. "This is in your hands."
Wicks had a simple request for everyone at the youth council: when you go back to your home state, register 10 more people to vote.
Bailey Perkins said she thinks she’ll be able to do more than that. She and two of her friends traveled from their colleges in Oklahoma to attend the convention. And Perkins is excited the campaign is reaching out people her age.
"I know sometimes it gets a little daunting because you don't see a lot of young people talking about politics or being really engaged, and so the fact that we have people in our national leadership who are reaching out to us, saying you are critical, you are a part, and we need you here kind of makes us want to step up to the plate," Perkins said.
The youth council also focused on several issues. A big one was gay marriage. That’s important to Jake Geller-Goad, a 28-year-old delegate from Chapel Hill. He married his partner a few years ago in Massachusetts.
"Marriage equality is something that came up in that room, and I’m not sure that’s something that comes up in a lot of rooms," Geller-Goad said. "The Democrats, obviously they’ve been a lot better about that this year, and it really is in part because the youth led the way."
And it’s issues like gay rights and health care that many at the youth council said have led them to support President Obama.