DFL’s strength lies in young voters

This election cycle I had the honor, privilege and opportunity to make my voice heard through the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party’s precinct caucus and convention process. As a result, on Saturday, May 7, 2016, at my congressional district convention, I became a Democratic National Delegate for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at the 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC).

I was excited to participate in the process to make a difference and elect a progressive candidate, and I had the privilege of serving as a national delegate with my friend, Will Moore. In addition to being a political newcomer and Sanders delegate, Will Moore is a community organizer with Take Action Minnesota and a Northside resident.

The significance of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign was bringing issues such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership; economic, social, racial and environmental justice; a $15-per-hour minimum wage; and issues directly impacting African Americans and indigenous people to the forefront.

His message to delegates prior to the nomination of Secretary Hillary Clinton at the DNC was to focus our attention on down-ballot races during this election cycle, and to ensure we elected candidates that would address growing inequality in America and hold electedofficials accountable. His candidacy encouraged young political newcomers, who are now flexing their organizational muscles. With our recent primary elections here in the state of Minnesota, I think we are starting to see a shift where you have more young people taking on party stalwarts and successfully winning those spots. Take, for example, the state’s House races, in which the DFL’s longtime-serving Phyllis Kahn and Joe Mullery were both ousted.

However, I am sure some would suggest that now more than ever is the time for the rise of a third party in America. And while I do feel that the United States is at a tipping point, I am not totally convinced that this election year will yield anything more or different than previous elections dominated by our two-party system.

What I really took away from the convention is that we must not take this election for granted. It’s important we get out to vote, and make our voices heard, for our democracy depends on it.

Alexis Pennie is a University of Minnesota-Twin Cities alum.

Editor’s Note: This letter was edited for length, grammar and clarity.