YDA Pledges Support for Progressive Candidates

From MyDD diarist Charlie Eaton.

On Sunday, Leighton Woodhouse offered a comprehensive report on the Young Democrats of America National Convention. But Leighton understated the victory that reform-minded progressives won.

Even before the convention began, it was apparent that the issue of this year’s convention was reform. The day before registration began, incumbent President Chris Gallaway e-mailed convention goers to tout a San Francisco Chronicle article about how progressives are trying to reshape the YDA into a more action-oriented organization. Shortly after, both Gallaway and Unity ticket challenger Alex De Ocampo pledged their support for the Action Caucus reform resolution.

The Action Caucus resolution pledged to mobilize YDA members around the races of 1,000 progressive candidates in the next two years. To readers of this blog that may sound like a pretty straightforward plan. But in the weeks prior to the convention it met considerable skepticism because some YDA veterans worried that it was too ambitious.

Those familiar with the YDA may find that skepticism unsurprising. Many YDA chapters have a hard time thinking of themselves as much more than social clubs for young people who are interested in Democratic politics. But as I discovered at the convention, there are also a great deal of YDA leaders who recognize the potential of our organization. They agree that YDA should be a diverse group of young people who want to improve our lives by electing Democrats who will fight for young people — especially young working people. The Action Caucus resolution points the YDA in that direction by pledging to elect progressives who will do just that.

At the convention, the dominoes fell in favor of those who would like to see the YDA take a bolder progressive stance, and put action behind it. Single-payer healthcare, withdrawal from Iraq, immigrant rights, and improved union organizing rights all made it into the new YDA platform. And the Action Caucus resolution passed unanimously, both in committee and on the floor of the convention.

Of course, a resolution is just words. Some YDA veterans point to past resolutions that were never acted upon. It’s up to those of us who are serious about making change in the Democratic Party to ensure that the same won’t be said about this resolution in the future. If you’re among those people and you’re under 35, let us know: http://www.ydaactioncaucus.org/

The only thing I have to say is put your support where your mouth is. I am a member of the Allegheny County Young Dems and I can promise you we are having serious difficulty getting our membership to support the candidacy of the only Progressive on the ’06 ticket that matters to Pennsylvanians, Chuck Pennacchio. If the YDA wants to support a progressive that believes in their stated goals of “single-payer healthcare, withdrawal from Iraq, immigrant rights, and improved union organizing rights” then Pennacchio is the choice.

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