Sen. Barack Obama needs young voters to keep turning out at unusually high rates in order to win in November. While his campaign adeptly mobilized them in the primaries, and continues to empower young operatives in senior positions, the Democratic National Convention disappointed some youth advocates by under-using young people on stage, as I described in a TWI post this week.
That post, as it happens, disappointed other Democratic operatives and many readers.According to a Democratic staffer who worked on the convention in Denver, young Democrats were indeed spotlighted. From an email to TWI:
On Monday, Amanda Kubik, a 26-year-old young delegate and Obama volunteer from North Dakota, spoke to the full convention hall from the podium with [seven] young delegates around her... Also, in cable primetime, we had a speech by Katherine Marcano, a 23-year-old supporter of Barack Obama from Iowa. ...
This information drew a correction from Mike Connery, a youth advocate who criticized the convention, for he maintains that young Democrats should have received a more "high-profile speaking slot." (As I wrote, the best slot for youth went to a campaign state director, who gave two addresses about text messages at Invesco Field on Thursday.)
Also, in a seperate essay, Connery responded to my point that Obama deserves credit for going beyond symbolism to empower young voters within his campaign management. Connery stressed that the problem lies more with a sclerotic DNC:
Ari is right that my critique is somewhat parochial when viewed in the context of how Obama is changing this dynamic. It is more important that young people are put in positions of power within campaigns and the party structure without the need to section them off in a "youth silo." And I hold out hope that Obama, riding a wave of youth support, and a staff that does in fact have many young people in key positions, will make that a reality throughout all levels of the party.
But it's important to note that Obama is the exception, not the rule. My purpose was to point to the tension that still exists within the party when it comes to giving young people a seat at the table. The convention speaking schedule was a visible symbol of that shortage of access young people still have within the party despite all of Obama's changes.
Finally, here on HuffPo, several young commenters weighed in with a collective shrug:
I am 26 and I think O did great at the convention. I thought the whole convention pretty much rocked it. ...I have several friends who are voting for O, and none of them were upset bc there was no youth speaker at the convention. That wasnt what is was about... for the first time in our lives we feel like we are apart of something great. That Obama actually took the time to listen, he didnt write us off like most politicians....
Wow... talk about 'reaching' for a problem. I know not one young voter who is not 'fired up' about supporting and volunteering for Senator Obama!
I understand this blogger's point, and I myself also would have very much liked to have seen and heard some younger faces and voices on the actual convention stage, but nothing speaks louder for the younger generation, GenX and Millenials, than the nomination of Obama. Obama's nomination is our voice and, whether appreciated or not, our announcement that we are here to participate in and drive the Democratic Party going forward.
On this one, the commenters have the last word.
(Photo Credit: Isaac Viel; Child at Obama rally.)
From The Washington Independent.
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