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March 19, 2006

Student Democrats "re-engaged in politics" at Spring Convention

by Merlyn Deng, Online Editor-in-Chief
Politically active teenagers mingled with elected officials and candidates at the Montgomery County Coalition of High School Democrats Spring Convention held in Rockville yesterday, March 18.

Several politicians gave speeches and held workshops, both of which were geared toward motivating high school political activists to "go forth and multiply," in order to prepare for the upcoming November elections, according to Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party Terry Lierman.

Blair juniors Lea Savard-McNicoll and Adam Yalowitz, the student chairs of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, and other high school Young Democrats had been planning this event for about a year, according to Savard-McNicoll. After a sign-in of high school students attending, the students, volunteers and politicians settled down for the Spring Convention to commence. Savard-McNicoll introduced the first speaker, current Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, who is also a candidate in this fall's gubernatorial race.

In addition to motivating the attendees to help take back the governor's mansion this fall, Duncan encouraged the high school students present at the Spring Convention to continue working hard for a successful campaign season. He hailed this year's election as "the election that people will be talking about 20 years from now" and that "[the Democrats] can make Maryland the greatest state if the right people are elected."

After Duncan concluded his speech, another Blair junior, Eve Gleichman, introduced Heather Mizeur. Mizeur, a runner for a position in the House of Delegates, emphasized the importance of politically active youth, calling them "the driving force for the change." She then told a story entitled, "A day in the life of Joe Republican," which highlighted the accomplishments of Democrats in the daily lives of all people.

Local Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen gave the final speech, in which he again emphasized the importance of each volunteer's contribution in these elections. His speech then turned to focus on the events happening at the national level. According to him, "the magic number is 15." Fifteen is the number of seats currently held by Republicans that he believes the Democrats need to win in order to take back the House of Representatives. Van Hollen spoke of how previous pundits had predicted a GOP-dominated House, but he maintains that "if the momentum continues, we will do very well" and that many of those pundits have already begun revising their predictions.

Van Hollen cut his time short in favor of fielding questions from the audience. While several politicians asked questions, various high school students also voiced their concerns and questions. Of the issues discussed, they included role models in the Democratic Party as well as today's campaign finance system, which skews publicity to candidates who are not necessarily qualified, but more rich or well-funded. The question about the campaign finance system sparked a short discussion. Overall, there was a general consensus that there should be a reduction in the influence of money on the success of campaigns, with some people voicing experiences in past elections where opposing parties had nearly twice the amount of funds as the Democrats had.

The event took on a different tone when Karen Britto, the chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, stood at the front of the room to hand out prizes. She rewarded students who successfully answered her questions water bottles and handbags.

After the speeches had finished and the prizes had been given, students were invited to attend two out of the three offered workshops. The sessions included one on Maryland legislative process, given by Maryland State Senator Sharon Grosfeld; "How to give your High School Dems club substance and get your message across to other students at school," given by Mizeur; and "Volunteer and campaign skills," given by Progressive Maryland's Tom Hucker. After the speakers concluded their respective workshops, students were encouraged to ask questions.

The event culminated in a campaign fair, during which students signed up for campaigns. In the closing minutes of the convention, Lierman arrived after just returning from New York to give a brief speech that echoed the words of the politicians who spoke earlier. "This election is not about my future, but your future," he said.

Later on, he noted the vitality at the Spring Convention with pleasure. "It's incredibly energetic, exciting and proof-positive that the youth are re-engaged in politics in Maryland," Lierman said.



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  • project pat on March 19, 2006 at 2:38 PM
    who cares
  • Jon B on March 19, 2006 at 8:12 PM
    I was there, and it was Awesome. YAY DEMS!!! and Congrats to Lea and Adam for organizing this. Hat's off to them.
  • Libertarian on March 20, 2006 at 11:40 AM
    Democrats are liars.
    At least everyone knows the Republicans are evil.
  • boo on March 20, 2006 at 12:44 PM
    boo democrats! yay radical politics!
  • Dumb Democrats= (View Email) on March 20, 2006 at 10:04 PM
    It is pitiful how they are so desperate for votes that they turn to the people who can't vote yet.
  • demos drule on March 21, 2006 at 10:19 AM
    i think its unfortunate that blazers are waisting their time with the american party system. open your eyes! our government caters to corporations not education. the demos just want your vote, not your voice.
  • DEMS on March 21, 2006 at 2:53 PM
    This was an awsome event and whoever downs it lets see you try to organize your own because you cant, because your a pitty to society and you should be thrown in jail for treason!!

    Go DEMS!!
  • Libertarian (original) (View Email) on March 22, 2006 at 9:26 PM
    I like how whenever I choose a name to post under someone else steals it. Freshman year was bob, that got stolen, then it was blank, and of course others go under blank. I finally settled on Libertarian and a couple days in someone steals it? That's not nice.

    But on the topic of the article, I wonder how many went because their parents told them they should be "active" in politics (by the way that means being brainwashed to think exactly what they think). Obviously I don't know everyone who went, so this is just a generality, I'm sure many are truly into politics and like to think for themselves rather than listen to air America or watch Fox news and repeat everything they hear, but is it really a coincidence that among adults this is a heavily Democratic area, and guess what? Almost all the kids are Democrats. Hmm. Similarly in the south. Pretty big coincidence. Sort of shows how both sides think they're right and everyone else is wrong. Try introducing the fact to a Dem that you don't like taxes being taken from you and being spent poorly, and they don't listen. Try to explain to a Republican how you value the life of a mother more than the life of a fetus, and they go crazy about how you are committing murder. They both use tactics to simply trash the other party, and instead of approaching something with an open mind, they simply toe the party line (how many people would change their vote in the SCO polls if you replaced President Bush with Senator Kerry and vice versa? Most seem to vote against anything that Bush promotes and for anything a Democrat promotes). This creates a fear of the other side, including fear of "wasting" your vote on a third party such as the Libertarians. Almost everyone I know is somewhat Libertarian. Against a big government, warrantless wiretapping, intrusion on rights, and massive spending? But instead of going to a party/individual candidates that represent their view, most people choose which big party is better than the other in their book and vote the straight ticket for them. The only wasted vote is a vote for someone you don't truly want to win. If you truly are a Democrat, then I wish you the best of luck with that party, but most people tend to approach politics not with an open mind, but from their parents' perspective. For a "rebellious" youth, we seem to mirror our parents' beliefs rather too much. By the way, before someone gives me a rant about how good the Dems are, they are the ones who recently proposed a bill to eliminate the chance of a third party candidate being elected. I definately lean left more than right, but the Dems lost my vote completely on that one. I don't know who will be running in 2008, but I doubt it will be for the Reps or the Dems. And if it is (or even if it's not) I will know that I truly approached it with an open mind, examining the platform of each candidate, and not because of my party and/or views of my parents.
  • to libertarian on March 24, 2006 at 1:33 PM
    kids get their genes from their parents and are taught most of their general values by their parents, so it makes sense that kids usually vote the way of their parents
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