The big activity at this afternoon's DNC Winter meeting occurred late in the day during the Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting. The Young Democrats, led by YD President Chris Gallaway of Virginia, sought a change in Party Rules to require State Parties to have goals and timetables for increasing youth representation in the delegate selection process.
According to Phil McNamara, DNC Director of Party Affairs and Delegate Selection, in the late 70's "youth" was included in a group for which the Party sought Affirmative Action policies to increase their representation in Party Affairs. By 1980, the word "youth" had been deleted.
The Young Democrats' Gallaway correctly contends that the Charter of the Democratic Party includes "youth" in the list of constituencies for which the Party "shall adopt and implement an affirmative action program which provides for representation as nearly as practicable of the aforementioned groups, as indicated by their presence in the Democratic electorate."
Currently the DNC Rules require equal representation between men and women. It also requires State Parties to have goals of representation by African-Americans, Asian/Pacific-Islanders, Hispanics, and Native Americans. Gallaway and his band of young party activists sought to have the Rules changed to reflect the Charter by having "youth" added to this list. They, in fact, believe there should have been no other choice because their position is that the Rules are in violation of the Charter
There seemed to be ample support for the YD's position. However their motion didn't pass. Why? Apparently they missed a date by which amendments must be filed. They did however get a compromise passed which was offered by DNC Staff and DNC's General Counsel. The insertion of one sentence directly states that State delegate selection plans may "establish goals and timetables for the under-represented groups identified in Rule 7.....Such as the special importance of the inclusion of youth as reflected in the Party's Charter." In other words, they make it optional for States to include additional groups, including youth, to their goals for representation. Confusing enough?
So, they didn't get what they wanted, but it's okay. Here's why: when young people run for Delegate, they win! I've done it twice and there is incredible support among the party activists to provide young people with the experience of attending a national convention.
The problem is that not enough young people are knowledgeable about the complex process to become a National Delegate. It begins at local precinct reorganization and ends at the election of Delegates at the State Convention, which is usually several months later. I am convinced that if the Young Democrats make a concerted effort to educate their members about the process by which they can be a Delegate to the National Convention, they will significantly increase their representation with outstanding young Democratic activists.
I hope they are not too disappointed to get to work on exactly that. They can surely reach 20% percent representation and perhaps surpass it. They will find sympathetic Democrats all around the country that will elect them as long as they work for it.