The VT Young Democrats are back, and if today’s well-attended convention in Montpelier is any indication there is a lot of enthusiasm as we look toward 2016. Vergennes native William Northrop chairs the reincarnated VT Young Dems. The executive board put on a program that was light on business and heavy on speakers who talked about the past and future of the Democratic Party in VT.
Senator Patrick Leahy kicked off the event with the story of his first election, commentary on the long road to normalizing relations with Cuba and a quick word about his cameos in the Batman movies. He pointed out the importance of the Dems’ ground game saying
“They have a lot of money, but we have people- and you can’t buy people.”
Rep. Kesha Ram spoke about spending her entire 20s in the VT House and that it’s never too early to get involved in public service. VT Dems’ Chair Dottie Deans talked about her early interest in politics during the Kennedy/Nixon election.
Secretary of State Jim Condos talked about how many of his “colleagues” in other states are entertaining or pushing for photo ID laws that suppress the vote. Even here at home these ideas are being discussed seriously in committees, and even on the Senate floor, in spite of the total lack of evidence that voter fraud is an issue.
Chittenden County State’s Attorney TJ Donovan talked about his teen years working in a mom-and-pop store in Burlington that was a hub of the community. There he learned about service and respect, and the core constituencies of the Democratic Party: poor, working-class and middle class people that need government to work for them.
Has the Democratic Party lost its way and forgotten these core constituencies? This legislative session leads me to believe that we may be in the middle of an “identity crisis” in Vermont. That said, there’s nothing like spending a few Saturday hours with dedicated teens, twenty and thirty-somethings to remind me who we have to serve if we are going to win elections and refocus our vision for the future of our state.