The Democratic National Convention Is Underway And Young People Are Making Their Voices Heard
The Democratic National Convention is underway and people around the county are tuning in for all of the festivities. The convention is all virtual because of Covid-19 meaning that it is easier for everyone to enjoy the political convention. mitú spoke with two young delegates about why they are involved with politics and the importance of being part of the process.
As the Democratic National Convention starts, young Latinos are among the delegates including Zenaida Huerta and Anthony Santiago.
Delegates are representatives at the nominating conventions for the two major political parties. Their responsibility during the convention is to cast a vote for the candidate who won the primary votes in the states they represent. It is possible for anyone to be a delegate in upcoming elections. Just click here and learn the process.
Being involved in politics is something Santiago has been passionate about for years.
“I have had an interest in politics for as long as I can remember, starting with my mom and I watching the news every morning while I was getting ready for school and feeling that Barack Obama was a leader I could look up to,” Santiago says. “He inspired me to want to get involved in helping my community as best as I could with any problems that we may face. It’s my goal to eventually run for office and to be a leader in the city of Kissimmee, [Florida], where I have lived for all 19 years of my life.”
For Huerta, it is a continuation of a family’s political legacy.
Huerta first got involved with her family’s political legacy when she interviewed her grandfather. He worked with the United Farm Workers and Huerta wanted to know why he worked so hard for no pay.
“‘It was a lot of work, but it was right,'” Huerta recalls her grandfather saying. “These words stay with me. My grandfather’s values passed onto my father, who was an AFL-CIO campaign manager who organized car wash workers in Los Angeles. Some of my clearest memories as a child are atop my father’s shoulders at labor marches and rallies. Obviously, as a child, I did not know what collective bargaining was, but I knew that I saw thousands of people, standing together, united to make a difference. Collective action is powerful. I am involved not just because I am one voice, but because I am one of many.”
Huerta is no stranger to the delegate process having supported Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2016.
Like many young Latinos, Huerta believes in Sanders’ vision for the U.S. For Huerta, her support of Sanders revolves around the dignity of the working class and Latino laborers.
“According to a March poll by Univision, the top three issues for California Latinos are lowering the cost of healthcare, improving wages and incomes, and creating more jobs,” Huerta says. “This pandemic has affected each of these issues. Latinos have the highest poverty rates in California amongst all racial and ethnic groups. That is why I believe that we need to provide Medicare for All and reduce economic inequality more than ever.”
Santiago is giving his support to Joe Biden.
Santiago’s support for Biden, aside from the delegate duties, stems from a respect for the former vice president’s work. Santiago first started to admire Biden when he was part of the Obama administration.
“Personally, I have always liked Joe Biden since I had watched him and Barack Obama over the years and admired their relationship,” Santiago says. I” paid very close attention to the Democratic primary this year, watching every debate and taking the time to look into each candidate and Joe Biden’s plan for healthcare was what I gravitated to most. My abuela was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer a few years ago, and thanks to the ACA she has been able to get affordable treatment and is doing very well today.”
The two delegates are eager to cast their vote for their respective candidates.
Both of the delegates are excited to cast their votes because of the importance of their participation.
For Santiago, it is about being part of the bigger picture of American politics.
“Being part of the convention means a ton to me. I have always wanted to get involved at the local level in order to help improve my community, and as the sole Biden delegate for Osceola county, I view this as a crucial first step,” Santiago says. “Looking through it from a wider scope, I also view this as an opportunity to make a positive change to the entire country. I get to join my fellow delegates in choosing our official presidential nominee to take on Trump and defeat him in November, ending his terrible leadership and making America work for its citizens.”
Huerta feels her sense of duty in representing her generation in casting a vote for Sanders.
“Being part of this convention as part of Gen Z means that I represent a generation that has seen opportunities for economic mobility dwindle throughout their lives,” Huerta says. “As I cast my vote for Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party’s nomination, I cast my vote for a better future. Although Bernie will not be nominated at the convention, his movement has won by opening the eyes of young Latinos across this country, myself included. As Cesar Chavez said, ‘Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.’”