June 2, 2013: This weekend commemorated the North Carolina Association of Teen Democrats 50th Annual Convention. Since 1963 our members have gained valuable skills, from public speaking to organization, and I nearly experienced a culture shock when looking bad at pictures from the 1964 Teen Democrats convention. Deanne Brickhouse stands in front of a house with other teenagers, holding a large sign supporting his Vice-President election. Another picture shows students working on posters with cartoons holding signs saying "Tucker for Vice President." They were all white, properly dressed and more nuclear than Beaver. Forty nine years later at Haw River State Park the Teen Democrats represent a new kind of political youth. Everyone's not white, not men, not wealthy, not straight. We're not all liberal, and we don't all have political goals. Baracktober Fest, held by the Stanly County club, was a pop punk concert with a campaign edge; Cabarrus County wove mats for the homeless; Emma Labovitz of Rowan raised money for the Sudan. If anything, I've learned there's a way to make politics fun.
This year also marked my 4th year of being involved with the Teen Democrats. I first got involved with Hillary Clinton's campaign. It's a funny story actually. I was with my grandparents at a rally in Monroe to see Bill Clinton with my grandparents. The speech inspired me so much I leaned over to my grandpa and asked for a twenty dollar bill. I took it, and wrapped a note saying something like, "I'm Hillary's biggest fan." There was one problem though, no donation boxes. The only way to get this note to the campaign was the President. I had no disregard for shoving people out of the way to get right up to Clinton's hand. I slipped him the twenty and told him it was a campaign donation. I'm sure that money just went to some Burger King or something like that, but that night I received an email from Jay Dunn, Clinton's chief fundraiser in North Carolina. Before I knew it I was having the time of my life hosting Honks for Hillary and getting booths at carnivals. Politics, and the thrill of campaigns have been a large part of my life. I worked for both NC State Senator Gene McLaurin and South Carolina Special Election candidate Martin Skelly's campaigns, and every step of the way my peers have been there to knock on doors. Two years ago I interviewed Professor Noam Chomsky and asked him if he believed today's youth is more or less politically active in his eyes than they were during the civil rights movement. "If we look at the rising numbers of young voters...and students protests, such as those in Wisconsin," said Chomsky, "it is very evident that the youth is becoming more and more influential."
Now, I have aged out, but I will always know the Teen Democrats as the place I gained my experience in politics. I wish John Easterling, Tristan Strong, Johnathon Williams, Emma Labovitz, Marissa Schneider, and Evana Bodiker luck in leading the organization over the next year. This is an important year to begin organizing county charters alongside our auxiliaries, district parties and county parties to aid our Democratic candidates, incumbents and new timers. Activism is a great way to show our support, but we must be realistic and focus on winning back the General Assembly. Not all of it can be taken back at once, but gradually, district by district, we can. I believe it. Good luck everybody.