Young Dems Blog
by Clayton Price
Waking up on November 9th, Democrats everywhere were utterly upset. Not only was Donald Trump named the President-Elect, but both the House and the Senate were under Republican control. After the results of the electoral college’s votes on December 19th, the weight of defeat rests on the Democratic party, but now is not the time for relinquishment.
We Democrats can still enforce positive change across America. Volunteer work in our communities, such as helping recycle or feeding the homeless, not only makes a significant difference but also shows an accurate representation of the party’s values. As a party, it is important to be open to bipartisanship as well. As Barrack Obama stated, “we have to remember that we are actually all on the same team. We’re not Democrats first, we’re not Republicans first, we’re Americans first.” This is something both sides need to remember if we plan to ever benefit our country, our communities, and the lives of one another.
Although bipartisanship is very important, that does not mean the Democratic party should ignore any discriminatory actions taking place. If any laws are passed that discriminate toward Muslims, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community or any other group, it is our duty to protest. We cannot stand idly by as groups of Americans have their freedom and rights stripped from them. We shall not let bigotry and prejudice flourish.
The fight for equality for all races, genders, religions, and sexualities must be continued and a key interest in the party’s values. The struggle to raise minimum wage so millions of Americans can finally make a living salary must be carried on. Too much progress has been made in providing affordable healthcare for Americans in need to go back now. Women’s reproductive rights are now at risk, and it is our job to protect those rights. We must make our voices heard! As Bernie Sanders said, “Now, more than ever, [is the time for] our revolution!”
I have been a teacher for 14 years and my students continue to amaze me. Now, amazement manifests itself in many different forms with young people…and not all are positive. However, I would like to take the opportunity to discuss this past school year and how amazed I was by the initiative, determination, creativity, and compassion of a particular group of students that formed the Young Democrats of West-Oak High School.
As teachers, we are charged with many challenging tasks. One such task is to influence students in a positive manner, while carefully managing not to bring our own religious or political beliefs into the classroom. So when I was approached by an ambitious group of high school seniors, curious about starting a branch of a Young Democrats group at our high school, I was cautious on the outside while thrilled on the inside. And because we, as teachers, are to keep our own thoughts, beliefs, and feelings to a minimum, I can attest to the fact that everything this group accomplished this year is a credit to their resourcefulness. It was my pleasure to watch them take an idea and work diligently to bring it to fruition. The club struggled at first, but that struggle led to a clear identity and a purpose and mission statement that has provided a strong foundation for the years to come. This club went from finding an identity to hosting an Equality Day and bake sale where all of the proceeds would go to the Trevor Project—a non-profit organization founded to help fight bullying and suicide among LGBTQ+ youth.
It takes great courage for anyone to take a stand for their beliefs when those beliefs are in contrast to the greater populace. Imagine the courage it takes for a teenager, who often just wants to fit in and avoid being singled out, to stand up for his or her beliefs. Now imagine (because I know you can) when we are talking about liberal political beliefs in an extremely conservative state and area. These students have had to have frank, often difficult, conversations with their peers, their parents, and their principals defending their convictions. I am amazed by their strength and fortitude and am grateful that they created a group where they can come together and realize that they are not alone in their beliefs. One of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut, writes in Timequake, “Many people need desperately to receive this message: 'I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.” These students realized they were not alone by coming together to form this group.
The Young Democrats of West-Oak High are all amazing, but I would like to especially address the seniors who developed this organization and who are graduating next week. Saying that I am proud of you does not begin to adequately convey how I feel. I have worked with you all for three years now, both as a teacher and a club advisor, and I am having a tough time imagining next year without you. While I know that you will all go on to do amazing things with your lives, I want you to know that you are always welcome at West-Oak and especially at a Young Democrats meeting. You started this—I expect you to continue to nurture it. No matter where you travel next year, you will still be young, you will still be a democrat, and you will always be a West-Oak Warrior.
It took all of you seniors to create this group, but I know we can agree that there would not be an organization if it were not for Jon Franklin. Jon, you are (to me, at least) what every teacher hopes for in a student. You have become smarter than I am, more compassionate than I am, and more willing to fight than I am. You are no longer my student—you are my friend and someone I admire. When some people speak of the “younger generation” in disparaging ways and wonder, with fear, how the next generation will tackle the challenges that are to come, I know that we’ll be alright with people like you taking the reins to lead us into tomorrow.
Thank you, Young Democrats of West-Oak High School, for teaching me more than I could have ever taught you.
Henry “Dee” Tindal
Proud advisor to the Young Democrats of West-Oak High School
By Jamie Plummer
After the Supreme Court ratified a federal mandate to legalize gay marriage in all fifty states last year, the nation finally seemed to be taking the proper steps towards equality. The rights that the LGBTQ+ community and their allies had been fearlessly fighting for for decades were finally being granted. However, as history has entailed, there have “always been discriminatory responses to historic moments of progression.”
On March 23 of this year, the state of North Carolina passed a law requiring the use of public bathrooms to adhere to one’s biological sex--a law governor Pat McCroy and other Republican leaders have defined as necessary to protect women from sexual assault. The true motives behind the law, however, are not as benevolent as the officials claim. The law, instead of offering protection, discriminates and alienates another group of people, the transgender community.
McCroy and supporters have thinly veiled their opposition to the transgenders by conveying the issue as something else entirely, and have somewhat succeeded. The rest of the nation, however, is standing on the right side of history.
The bill has ignited protests from around the country--human rights groups, businesses, entertainers, and even sports teams have spoken out against the act. The most prominent of those in opposition, though, is the federal government. The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a civil lawsuit against the state and has threatened to cut its funding, arguing the new law violates the Civil Rights Act. North Carolina, in turn, has filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department, as McCroy accuses it of “blatant overreach” and argues that “transgender status isn't a protected class” under civil rights laws. Civil rights laws, however, don’t pertain to specific classes--they pertain to and protect all people.
The unnecessary passing of this bill has been necessarily rebutted with a number of protests. North Carolina now not only faces tremendous opposition, but also a risky legal battle. The type of action taking place against this bill is crucial, as it affects all of us. By taking away the rights of some, they are afforded the ability to take the rights of all. There are many parallels between the discrimination the LGBTQ+ community faces today with the discrimination African Americans faced some fifty years ago. The repetition of that pattern is alarming and inexcusable, but there is great hope as people from across the country come together to retaliate against these acts of prejudice, and as the Justice Department stands its ground--stop injustice.
On March 22, many Americans woke to find yet another city had been attacked by terrorists. We learned that many people had been injured, and some killed. This kind of news is devastating, but our response can make not only our country a better place, but also our world.
As of this writing, the number of fatalities from these bombings is 32. Four of these victims are Americans. It is always heartbreaking to hear of innocent people being killed. Two of the Americans killed were natives of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Their young daughter saw them on a cell phone screen a week before the bombings. This child will probably never remember her parents because she is so little, but in time she will inevitably learn how they died.
Still, as Americans we cannot allow our sadness to turn into hatred of a generalized population. The group responsible for the attack, ISIL, wants the United States to form a resentment of the entire religion of Islam, thus playing into their image of America as an oppressive force. Part of the reason why ISIL has flourished in the Middle East and around the world is because many Muslims feel that they are abhorred by Western nations. Hatred fuels violence, therefore we cannot blame Muslims without perpetuating the problem. Donald Trump has advocated for the deportation of Muslims and the closing of mosques in America. If Trump is elected, more events like this will occur in the U.S. Furthermore, Trump is violating a basic freedom that is guaranteed to every American, freedom of the individual to choose one’s own religious beliefs.
In order to prevent further terrorist attacks we must realize that Islam is not inherently violent. The only reason these attacks occur is because ISIL has developed an online presence that has succeeded in radicalizing many Muslims. The propaganda machine that ISIL has built is effective when combined with the hatred that many conservatives exhibit towards Muslims. The United States needs to support nations who are weakening ISIL. Our goal must not be the destruction of Islam, but the destruction of a radicalized terrorist organization. If this goal is accomplished with the help of American allies, maybe then there could exist a world that doesn’t produce orphans like that little girl in Gatlinburg.
By Jon Franklin, of the Young Democrats of West-Oak High School
Over the past few weeks, the Democratic Party—along with the rest of the country—has been eagerly watching as primaries continue to take place across the nation, all leading up towards its respective convention in July. The two frontrunners of the party, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, have both been rallying hard in order to capture decisive states of the nomination process. The Clinton campaign has proven more successful in this effort, earning her (as of mid-March) 1,606 total delegates to Sanders’s 851. She has won large states like Iowa and South Carolina, has a former president to aid her in the campaign, and even appears to have strong support from the DNC—which all begs the question: Why is Sanders even still running?
On the other side, Republican candidates have been suspending campaigns left and right after losses like those Sanders faced in Iowa. Prominent politicians like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Rand Paul have all given up on their quest for the White House because of their frontrunner’s strong lead, so is Sen. Sanders just stubborn? Or is there hope for him yet?
History would point to the latter. Perhaps the most controversial and enduring loss of Clinton’s career was that of the 2008 election, in which she lost to now-President Barack Obama. Like Sanders, Obama had been warring Clinton consistently over every state, before snagging enough delegates to surpass her.
It would not be a stretch to assume that Clinton is feeling a sense of déjà vu. But what does this say for the Sanders campaign? Does he have what it takes to surpass his opponent, to steal the nomination? The answer is tricky, for lack of a better word. Of the next eight states to host primaries—Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming—Sanders is slated to win seven. Though these wins may not be big enough for his campaign to recover fully from the drudgery of the past two Super Tuesdays, they would definitely serve to boost camp morale, and could lead to further victory.