Wednesday, February 3, 2016

On Props and Press Hits

There are some days when a young progressive moderate literally can not even, and this is one of those days.

When I was twelve years old, I stood up for voting rights in my home state of North Carolina. I became MoveOn's youngest leader when I started a petition to meet with my Governor, Pat McCrory, to discuss the removal of my state's pre-registration program for 16 and 17 year olds. The day before I was to deliver my petition, Governor McCrory, the occupant of the highest office in my state, went on a radio show where he called me a prop for liberal groups.

Today, the campaign of someone who wants to be the occupant of the highest office in our nation, someone who not only proclaims he wants to engage young people but has made it a focal point in his campaign and promotes his immense support among young voters, re-tweeted a message that echoes the same sentiment as Governor Pat McCrory.

This is how the Bernie Sanders campaign chose to respond to to 27 year old DREAMer Astrid Silva's endorsement of Hillary Clinton. I am going to give Senator Sanders the benefit of the doubt and assume that he, himself, did not re-tweet this. I hope my assumption is correct.

Astrid Silva is an inspiration and a role model. Through her activism, she continues to strive to improve the lives of children and families and is a champion for undocumented youth.

As I said when my Governor chose to belittle me and dismiss my voice: This is not leadership.

Also today, the Bernie Sanders campaign made this tweet.

This does not represent Democratic Party values and it does not exemplify the leadership the young people of this nation deserve. It is pandering to the lowest common denominator of political extremist. This nation is made up of a diverse array of voices that together make a stronger America. The Democratic Party welcomes a diverse array of viewpoints to join together in achieving the goals we believe will make America even stronger. The President of the United States is required to serve WE the people, not only the people who pass his or her ideological purity test.

As someone who has thousands upon thousands of young people following him, attending his rallies, and taking part in his campaign, it is my hope that Bernie Sanders will consider the impact his words and his deeds have on our youth. I hope he will consider the kind of example he wants to set for our young people in political discourse. I hope he will engage in some serious reflection on his feelings regarding youth engagement and involvement, what his principles are in this regard, and then communicate those principles to his campaign staff. I hope he will put principles into practice that welcome all young people not only to participate in the Democratic Party, but to participate in any way in our democracy, no matter what platform they identify with or what side of an issue they take.

Over the past several days, I have also seen a few of my fellow Hillary Clinton supporters on Twitter making belittling and dismissive statements about young people who support Bernie Sanders. When you do this, you are echoing the sentiments of NC Senator Bob Rucho who was at the forefront of the attack that removed the opportunity that allowed over 160,000 sixteen and seventeen year olds to pre-register to vote by portraying us as "confused." These statements against young people do not represent our candidate, Secretary Clinton, who, when asked about young people supporting Senator Sanders said, "I'm totally happy to see young people involved in any way. That's what we want." If you are tempted to make disparaging statements about young people, go immediately to Representative John Lewis' timeline and read it, the whole thing, then reflect upon what kind of statements you want to make about youth involvement.

I am a young moderate progressive. I will not be wished out of existence. I will not be shamed into silence. I will not be treated as if I am not a valuable member of the Democratic Party. I will not stand for my fellow young people to be treated as not valuable to our nation nor will I tolerate their voices being dismissed and belittled, regardless of the political affiliation of those being dismissed or doing the dismissing. I will never give up fighting for policies that encourage our youth's engagement and involvement, including the young people who disagree with me on the issues. I expect the people who desire to be elected to represent me to uphold standards of leadership that inspire and encourage the youth of my country to work in any way to create a bright future for us all.

The real revolution involves building an America that is more inclusive and diverse and some of the most important battles in that revolution are the ones we fight within ourselves, not just on some days, but every day, in order to be the change we want to see.

1 comment:

  1. BRAVA! As a fellow North Carolinian, I remember when the cowardly lion, aka Pat McCrory, decided to choose to malign, rather than engage, you. It made me furious. Keep on keeping on! Your star is rising!