Take a second to imagine, you’re a young person sitting in a typical democrat meeting, and you’re about to speak up about something you’ve experienced or something you know by virtue of being a young person. As soon as you start to speak you are interrupted by an older person, and they make a scathing remark about young people; something along the lines of “Young people today don’t really care” “Young people can’t do politics” “All young people do these days is sit on their phones and complain”. You feel outright embarrassment, which turns to anger, but you are unable to articulate yourself before the rest of the room laughs in agreement.
Ask any young democrat, and they probably have at least one story that’s pretty similar to this. As more young people try to enter the political scene, they are all too often faced with hostility from those who should be trying help them and encourage them to stay involved. We are constantly reminded of awful stereotypes of the entitled millennial every time we try to voice an opinion, and we are too often left out of the conversation completely.
However, the picture is not always so bleak. For myself, I grew up in Hastings, and got involved with the Adams County Democrats in high school. Every member was always supportive and constantly gave me advice for how to improve, without tearing down the work I had already done. Thanks to amazing people like Kathy Jensen, Robin Vodehnal, Judy Sandeen, and Cathie & Tom Genung, I have been able to flourish in the party.
That’s why it was an absolute pleasure to speak with them last week. The Adams County Democrats were gracious enough to donate to help the Young Dems attend the YDA national convention this summer in Indianapolis. At their meeting on November 7th, Caleb and I spoke about the benefits of going to that convention, and about all of the work NYD has been up to. The entire time we spoke, we were met with nothing but smiles. Their questions were thoughtful and considerate, and they never once spoke down to us. While I am sad to say this is not always the norm, I am happy to keep close other who support the message and work of the Young Dems. So many, especially out here in CD3, are incredibly supportive, in both mentorship and finances. I would be here all day if I tried to list every “Young at Heart” democrat that has helped me along the way.
While standing backstage at the Morrison-Exon Dinner, waiting to receive our awards, Judy Vohland of the Hall County Democrats said to me “I’m so happy to see the youngest and the oldest of party back here, so we can start passing the torch”. While that night, with the chaos of the dinner, I didn't get the chance to reply, I wanted to say that they are leaving behind some pretty big shoes to fill, and I couldn’t be happier to be following up such amazing party members.
For every condescending remark, there has always been more words of encouragement.
So, here’s to you, the Young at Hearts Democrats of Nebraska, your kindness and support are cherished more than you may realize. Thank you.