By Kerala Hise of Portland, Oregon. Kerala is the fundraising chair for the Young Oregon Democrats of America (YODA) and the secretary of the Multnomah County Young Democrats. Learn more at YDOregon.org and at MCYDS.org.
Late last month, 500 young democrats from around the country gathered in Louisville, Kentucky for the Young Democrats of America’s National Convention. For the first time ever, Oregon had a seat at that table.
Chartered at the Pacific Regional Conferences hosted here in Portland in mid-May, the Young Oregon Democrats of America is the first Oregon chapter of the YDA to be recognized by the national organization. This July, three YODA representatives traveled to Kentucky to speak on behalf of our growing group. Now we have a hand in shaping what the Young Democrats stand for nationally, as well as a say in how we achieve those goals. The goal of the conference was to learn from the speakers and from one another, those that feel just as strongly as us that the Democratic Party is the party of young people, the party of the future.
The spectrum of problems facing young people in this country are just as varied as those of the generation before us. We face an unemployment rate nearly double the national average. When we do find work, it is with the realization that we will likely work longer than our parents, for less money, leaving us saddled with education debt and delaying our chance to pursue the American dream. Young people today face a host of problems that government has thus far not been willing to address. These are the sorts of challenges that the Young Democrats of America are committed to highlighting, problems that require long-term planning to reinvigorate our nation and provide stability for our future.
Having representation at the national convention was only one part of the puzzle, and it was the easy part. It is time for the real work to begin. For the past couple of months, our main focus has been on membership outreach and chapter development. Our chapters in Multnomah, Lane and Washington counties have committed to building new chapters in Marion, Clackamas, Douglas, and Coos counties. Educating and empowering the next generation of voters in high schools and colleges is another key goal. Bringing young people from across the state together to discuss how we can strengthen our party is key to building a strong Democratic Party for the future of Oregon.
Our generation is concerned about the direction of our nation. Whether it is our prospects for employment to help us achieve the American Dream, our freedom to choose, our freedom to marry who we love, our ability to count on a clean environment or our want for a just and equal society, now is the time to get young people involved. We know that there is a lot of work ahead of us, but we have a strong community here to draw support from, and with that support and determination we can make YODA into a lasting institution for the young progressives of our state.
As we head into the special election and prepare for 2012 you will see a lot more from YODA. We will be at the doors and on the phones. We will be talking to candidates about the issues important to young Oregonians. We will be working side by side with other Democratic organizations to turn our country around. We hope you will get involved with us too.
Aug. 21, 2011 | |