The Young Democrats of America (YDA) National Convention this August in Los Angeles featured former Maryland Governor and Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley and U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) who urged over 700 young, progressive Democrats to focus on critical issues before and after the 2016 election: criminal justice reform, income inequality, and racial justice, to name a few.
Without question, Rep. Karen Bass’ speech gave the room pause and afterward received a standing ovation. Her speech was futuristic, citing that morning’s POLITICO article entitled “Democratic Blues” to make her case: the Democratic Party (“the older folks”) have lacked focus in building an infrastructure to recruit and hire a diverse body of consultants and electing progressive candidates to all offices--local, state, and national-- in the past decade (The article also unfairly blamed this on President Obama, but I’ll digress.).
Fortunately, I served on this year’s YDA Platform Committee, responsible for developing the policy platforms that YDA will stand for until the next convention in 2017. With a concrete agenda and strategy, I was able to pass a key addition to the “Party Structure and Core Values” of the 2015-2017 Young Democrats of America Platform:
“We, the Young Democrats of America, will urge Democratic organizations, including labor unions, national, state, and county committees, political campaigns and other allied organizations, to actively recruit and hire underrepresented populations who reflect the communities they serve.”
Certainly inspired by PowerPAC+’s 2014 Fannie Lou Hamer Report and Inclusv’s efforts to actively recruit more consultants of color on Democratic campaigns, I pushed this language to ensure members of the largest organization that represents young people in the Democratic Party can bring this message back to their state Democratic parties and Democratic organizations to diversify their hiring.
This should serve as a red flag to all Democratic campaigns. A lack of diversity on Democratic political campaigns will not suffice for the next generation of Democrats. The Democratic Party should pass a similar, more specific resolution at the 2016 Democratic National Convention next year in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and commit to diversifying Democratic campaigns on all fronts.