Friday, February 09, 2007

Young Democrats of America Meeting - Washington, DC

The last general meeting was this past weekend in Washington, DC with a theme of "Join the Revolution!"

Attending from Georgia were:

Jason Cecil (National Committeeman)
Flora Brooke Hesse (National Committeewoman)
Kirk Miller (YDA Rules Chair)
Billy Joyner (YDG President)
Benson Manica (YDG Secretary)
Kyle Bailey (Atlanta Stonewall Democrats)
Skyler Atkins (University of West Georgia)
Page Gleason (Executive Director)
Rebecca Miller (DeKalb)
Erin O'Neil (Atlanta)
Bernita Smith (DeKalb)
Melissa Thompson (Women's Caucus chair)
Juliana Illari (Cobb)
Brian Peterson (VP-Membership)
Robin Reynolds (LGBT Caucus chair & CDG President)
Nikema Williams (Atlanta)
Rahsheim Wright (Chatham)

As you can see, our delegation was nearly 20 strong! It was an excellent turnout by our state and one of the best in the nation.

Thursday was the start of DNC meetings, and every participant in YDA got a guest pass to the DNC. The College Democrats got a private tour of the US Capitol, complete with a visit to Speaker Pelosi's office and her private balcony at the Capitol. The DNC Rules meeting on youth participation did not go as well as we had hoped. The chairman, committee counsel, and staff were all against us, and convinced the group to turn their backs on a long standing violation of the DNC charter. At one point, the committee counsel made the Nixon/Bush-like argument that since the Convention is the highest authority of the Democratic Party, any action taken by a convention is de facto in line with the charter (Remind anyone of Nixon's famous saying, "If the President does it, then it is not illegal"? How about Bush's stance that since he's Commander in Chief, he can ignore the Constitution?) It was the 1980 Convention that purposefully, but inexplicably, removed youth from representation in future delegations. What they did not do was remove youth from the chater, meaning that the DNC has been involation of the charter since 1980. Instead, a letter will be sent to the state parties urging them to "pretty please" remember to include youth in their delegations. YDG will work with the state party to ensure that youth delegates are seated as part of the 2008 Georgia contingent.

Every Presidential candidate who has declared for the Democratic nomination was invited to speak on Friday and Saturday morning. The general consensus from our group was that Edwards, Clinton, Obama, and Richardson impressed the most. There was even an opportunity for us to meet the candidates individually, an opportunity of which several of us were able to take advantage.

On Friday night, many of us attended the YDA Founder's Day event, which was a casual buffet showing the various decades that YDA has been in existence. This year is the 75th anniversary of the organization. It was an interesting party, although I went into it thinking it would be fancier than it was. And all of us from GA and other southern states were horrified by how rudely people treated Mrs. Vilseck, the keynote speaker. She is not the most exciting speaker, but to have people talking over her in separate conversations was rude. We were delighted to have DPG Chair Jane Kidd join us for the evening. We were able to see her at many events throughout the weekend, along with other DPG delegates to the DNC such as Labor Commissioner Mike Thurmond and Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin.

The final amendments to the YDA charter were considered and partially rejected. The amendments to the charter failed, but the corresponding bylaw changes passed. This means that for now, YDA's bylaws and charter conflict. This happened due to politics, and the desire of some to poke a stick in the eye of the outgoing YDA President. It also happened because the Rules committee got tired of looking at each line that was changed in the charter and hastily moved to adjourn without allowing the dissenters a full hearing on their concerns.

Speaking of the YDA Presidency, David Hardt formally launched his ticket's campaign for office. The reception that David, Chris, and Crystal hosted was fantastic. Having the chair of the Texas Democratic Party introduce David was a nice touch too. Texas doesn't have the best reputation in the world for being nice to gay people (see Lawrence v Texas), but David has managed to marshall the full support of his state party in a genuine way. There was a lot of behind-the-scenes discussion about who should be the DNC Man on the ticket, and a huge meeting was held where just about anyone interested in sharing an opinion was invited to do so. It is this kind of collaboration that is good for YDA, and I look forward to David's administration.

The next YDA meeting will be in May at a time and place yet to be determined. The only thing I do know is that the meeting will be west of the Mississippi River. Once details are released, we will share those with you.


Mark your calendars for July 18-21, 2007!!! The YDA National Convention will be held in Dallas, TX at the Adams Mark Hotel. For those who have attended previous conventions in San Francisco (2005), Buffalo (2003), and Tuscon (2001), you know these conventions are a lot of fun and great way to get together with YDs from across the nation, settle on a national YD platform, and elect national officers.

Confirmed speakers include Hillary Clinton and John Edwards so far. The convention website will not be up until late February or early March, but some financial details are available for you to start saving your pennies. The Adams Mark Hotel is the largest hotel in Texas, and for rooms with two queen size beds, the cost is $125/night (or $31.25/person with 4 people in a room). For those who want your own room, a king size bed is available in the Royal Tower for $145/night. Reservations can be made by calling 877-319-2326 or visiting Registration will cost $60/person, and there will be a way for financial hardship to be argued on an individual basis. American Airlines is offering a 5% discount off airfare for conference attendees (use code A8577AM at and if 10 or more people fly Southwest, an unspecified discount will apply. If you make reservations on your own, please be sure to email Jason at an d let him know the details for our records.

With the convention being in Dallas, we will likely have a driving option for those interested in that. The downside of Dallas is that in order to maximize Georgia's votes at the Convention, we must have 34 people in our delegation. Fundraising will obviously be key, and YDG will work with local chapters to offset the costs. The experience of the national convention is worth it, though. Dallas has world class shopping and entertainment, and it promises to be a good time for everyone. I hope you will make plans to attend.


crystal said...

Jeff Lake doesn't count as a Georgian?

Jason said...

Oh, that is definitely an oversight. Jeff never gets into my Georgia list because he always just shows up. He's so omnipresent, that I forget to list him.

But yes, Jeff Lake does count as a Georgian. My bad.