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Trump’s ‘Nasty Woman’ remark becomes feminist battlecry
“Such a nasty woman.” Like many people, 23-year-old Emily DiVito was multitasking while watching last week’s presidential debate, with a little studying and a little Twitter-surfing. But when DiVito heard Donald Trump say those four words to Hillary Clinton, she shot up in her seat.
“The interruptions were so absurd, but that was particularly biting,” she said.
What’s more, the moment gave DiVito, a former avid supporter of Clinton’s primary rival Bernie Sanders, a feeling of solidarity with Clinton — a “moment of connectivity,” as she put it. “I was for Bernie, but moments like this make me proud to be affiliated with her, the way she is persevering.”
That’s good news for Clinton, who despite her lead in the polls, has struggled to connect with millennial voters.
It also was probably bad news for Trump. Days after his devastating “grab ‘em” remarks emerged and he started facing new allegations of sexual assault, the GOP presidential nominee had another bad week, leading some to wonder whether his popularity with female voters had reached rock bottom.
The candidate who so badly needed to close the gender gap instead saw his “nasty woman” remark — accompanied by a wagging index finger — become a feminist battle cry, a galvanizing moment for Clinton and an exclamation point to a campaign dominated by gender.
To Kathy Spillar, the “nasty woman” comment sounded like “the coffin shutting.””
“I thought, ‘That’s it,”” said Spillar, executive director of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “Women voters are going to defeat Trump.” The comment, she said, not only “summed up his whole attitude about women,” but showed how bitter he was about potentially losing to one.
“Losing would be bad enough, but that he has lost to a woman really grates on him,” Spillar said. “That’s certainly clear. And this just fuels the gender gap.”
An ABC News poll conducted in the days following Wednesday’s debate gave Clinton a 55 percent-35 percent lead over Trump among women. Among college-educated white women, the gap was 62 percent to 30 percent. Likely voters, by a margin of 69 percent to 24 percent, disapproved of Trump’s response to questions about his treatment of women. In a Quinnipiac University poll conducted before that debate, Clinton led Trump among women by 52 percent to 37 percent.
Also, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released a few days before the debate showed women favoring Clinton over Trump by 55 percent to 35 percent.
The “nasty woman” interjection — coming on a night when both candidates interrupted each other frequently — went viral.
Spotify tweeted that streams of Janet Jackson’s “Nasty” were up 250 percent.
“Nasty Woman” T-shirts were on offer (“Bad Hombre” ones, too.)
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, got in on the act, tweeting to Clinton: “From one #NastyWoman to another, you were an inspiration last night.”
“So much of this election cycle has been about the ways men belittle women when they don’t get what they want from them,” said Andi Zeisler, 43, feminist author and founder of the nonprofit Bitch Media. “Now, people are seeing themselves in Donald Trump’s words toward Hillary, they’re seeing themselves in how his surrogates act toward women _ and toward Latinos and anyone who is not a straight white man.”
The “nasty woman” remark, she said, is a “somewhat predictable and almost laughable apex” of what’s been going on all year. But, she added, it is totally possible that there might be a new apex to come.
Throughout the debate, Clinton tried to highlight her opponent’s trouble with female voters, saying at one point: “Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger.” When it came to abortion, she argued in a pointed way for a woman’s right to control her own body, after Trump said he would appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade.
That, too, impressed DiVito, who worked for Sanders’ campaign for several months after graduating from Wellesley, Clinton’s alma mater.
“I felt solidarity rooted in pride for a woman who was up there sticking up for other women against a man who has zero interest in trying to empathize with the emotional and physical complexity of abortion,” DiVito said.
It didn’t help Trump that he evoked audible laughter in the audience — despite moderator Chris Wallace’s admonitions to the crowd — when he said: “Nobody has more respect for women than I do.”
Debbie Walsh, who specializes in women and politics at Rutgers University, said she wasn’t particularly shocked by Trump’s remark, given his other recent statements.
“Gender is front and center in this campaign, and he is clearly using it,” said Walsh, director of the school’s Center for American Women and Politics. She recalled Trump’s saying Clinton had “tremendous hate in her heart,” calling her the devil, even saying he “wasn’t impressed” when she walked in front of him _ interpreted as a comment on her appearance.
“He is the gift that keeps on giving on this stuff,” Walsh said.
For a male Clinton supporter, the moment was a chance to reflect on how women might react when they hear such things.
“I imagined women throwing things at the TV,” said Stefan Krieger, 69, a law professor in New York. “I imagine there are some men that say such things to their girlfriends, their wives, their partners, in a fit of rage. It’s a way of men lashing out with power.”
“I hope I’m not like that.”
Millennials showing up in 2016 election could decide races
Millennials get a bad rap. They’re labeled narcissistic, self-absorbed and apathetic. (Just look at their nicknames: the selfie generation, generation me, the unemployables.)
And they’re the least likely generation to turn up at the polls this November.
However, many young Americans do care about politics. They may just show it differently than their parents.
At a recent Black and Brown Vote event at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, many of the attendees were active in student politics and protest movements. L. Malik Anderson, a 21-year-old journalism and communications arts major, helped organize the Oct. 12 panel discussion to encourage people his age to register and vote.
“A lot of (young) people are feeling hopeless, like this election won’t make a difference in their lives,” Anderson said.
Sean Medlin, a 23-year-old recent graduate of UW-Madison who hails from Arizona, said that as an African-American, he is motivated to vote in November — mostly out of fear.
“I think that the presidential race is terrifying,” Medlin said, adding that he believes both major party presidential candidates, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, harbor some measure of racism.
“I feel compromised,” he said. “I don’t want to not vote, and I don’t want Trump to win. So I’m voting for Hillary.”
Jessica Franco-Morales, a 21-year-old student activist from Green Bay, expressed a similar sentiment: “I would say people are not enthused about the presidential election — more like agitated and motivated to vote.”
A self-described “older millennial,” panelist Matthew Braunginn, 31, urged the audience to “get over your apathy” and vote in the upcoming election.
“Ya’ll almost got Bernie Sanders — a quasi-socialist, let’s get real about that — nominated,” said Braunginn, a student engagement specialist with the Middleton-Cross Plains School District. “We (millennials) have a lot of power to really push things in a direction. It takes being involved. It takes voting.”
U.S. Census Bureau figures bear that out. As of April, there were an estimated 69.2 million millennials, roughly defined as Americans age 18 to 35, in the U.S. electorate, according to a Pew Research Center study. This group makes up about a third of the voting-age population, matching the baby boomers.
But millennials consistently have the lowest election turnout among all generations. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 17.1 percent of 18- to-24-year-olds voted in 2014, compared with 59.4 percent of those 65 and older.
Among likely Wisconsin voters ages 18 to 29, the Oct. 12 Marquette Law School Poll found 46 percent planned to vote for Clinton and 33 percent for Trump but were more likely than other age groups to support third-party candidates. Twelve percent said they planned to vote for neither candidate. Another 6 percent said they planned to vote for Independent Gary Johnson, while 3 percent remained undecided with the election one month away.
Clayton Causey, 30, of Madison, said he is turned off by the negative tenor of the presidential campaign and is not sure whether he will vote. Causey said people his age appear to be turning away from the two-party system, and he expects some will vote for Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
While millennials have the potential to influence upcoming elections — even the fate of political parties — the question is, will they? Here’s what you need to know about millennials and voting.
Millennials are different socially and politically
Millennials are more diverse than any generation before them. According to 2014 census data, 44 percent of them identify as nonwhite.
Elli Denison, director of research for the Center for Generational Kinetics, a Texas-based consulting firm that specializes in generational research, said millennials have grown up with diversity and celebrate it.
Mike Hais, co-author of the book “Millennial Majority: How a New Coalition is Remaking American Politics,” agreed. He said this diversity has led to the generation being more accepting, which affects their political views.
“They tend to be the most socially tolerant generation in America,” Hais said. “Immigration, gay rights and the like, for all these reasons, their attitudes tend to be progressive and tolerant. They really are, in that sense, a very distinctive generation.”
Those distinctions don’t always correlate along party lines, either. According to a 2016 Gallup poll, 44 percent of millennials identify as independents, while 28 percent identify as Democrats and 19 percent Republicans.
Hais also called the millennials “the most female-driven generation in American history” thanks to high enrollment numbers for women in college. In 2015, about 11.5 million women were expected to attend colleges and universities, compared with 8.7 million men, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
Joan Kuhl, founder of the site WhyMillennialsMatter.com, said the millennial generation is “the most educated generation yet.”
On the personal front, millennials are waiting the longest of any of the grown generations to get married and have their own home. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center study and census data on millennials, 32.1 percent lived with their parents, and 57 percent were married by age 30. In comparison, in 1975, 90 percent of 30-year-olds lived on their own, and 89 percent had married.
They vote less often than other generations
Why do so few millennials vote? Some experts on the generation said one of the most prevalent reasons is that millennials tend to move around — a lot.
At some point in their lives, 51 percent of millennials moved for employment, 46 percent moved for or to find a romantic partner, and 44 percent had moved for family, according to a study of 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 35 from the moving company Mayflower.
This constant moving around often means re-registering to vote or requesting absentee ballots. However, the 50 states and thousands of counties have different rules, which can lead to confusion.
Some states also passed legislation that seems to target millennials, said Russell Dalton, a political science professor at University of California-Irvine, and author of the book “The Good Citizen: How a Younger Generation is Reshaping American Politics.” This includes forcing people to register in person the first time, shortening registration windows, refusing to accept student ID cards or rejecting certain documents as proof of residency.
“There is a whole set of institutional reforms that if politicians wanted to get young people to vote, they could,” Dalton said. “But politicians are happy with the status quo.”
However, even when states and jurisdictions do make it easy to register and vote, it doesn’t necessarily mean millennials will make it to the polls. Millennials often describe themselves as disillusioned and distrustful of the political system.
According to a 2016 poll by the Harvard University Institute of Politics, 47 percent of millennials feel that America is heading on the wrong track, and 48 percent agree that “politics today are no longer able to meet the challenges our country is facing.”
Millennials also lack faith in the traditional two-party system, which is why so many are independent.
Political strategist Luke Macias, CEO of Macias Strategies LLC, said millennials just aren’t as connected to local governments as older generations, so they don’t see the value in voting. But, said Macias, “Baby boomers were apathetic at 18 too,” and he predicted their involvement will grow as they age.
They care about a wide range of issues
Because millennials tend to distrust politicians, they often pay more attention and spend their time on issues rather than parties. Maurice Forbes, the youth vote director for NextGen Climate in Nevada, said he sees this trend with college students.
“I hear a lot from theses campuses across Nevada that ‘I care about these specific issues that are going to be affecting me and less so about a particular candidate that is expressing their views on that,’ ” Forbes said.
But it’s not just two or three main issues that stand out to millennials. They feel passionate about a wide range of issues.
Millennials don’t necessarily consume news and information the same way previous generations did — from the nightly broadcast news or the daily newspaper. But that doesn’t mean millennials don’t care about the world, according to a study by the Media Insight Project.
In fact, the study suggested that millennials’ access to technology and social-media platforms has actually widened their awareness of issues.
Nevertheless, recent national polls have indicated millennials often care most about the same issues other generations do: No. 1 being the economy, including jobs, minimum wage and paid leave, according to a USA Today/Rock the Vote poll.
Money issues also play a big role in their lives, and college affordability and student debt was the second most popular answer. Other top issues included foreign policy and terrorism, health care, guns and climate change, according to the poll.
They can change American politics
Historically, millennials have not shown up to vote. But that does not mean the generation hasn’t influenced political institutions.
The millennial population overtook baby boomers as the largest generation in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In Utah, the millennial generation has been larger since at least 2000, according to the Utah Foundation, a public policy research firm.
Salt Lake City is home to the second-highest percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds in the country among major cities — second only to Austin, Texas. And the city’s politics reflect its young population.
The city has long been a left-leaning island in the middle of historically conservative Utah, but the city’s politics are becoming even more progressive — and election data show the liberalism is slowly spreading to nearby counties.
Last year, Salt Lake City elected an openly lesbian mayor, Jackie Biskupski. And this year, the city rallied around Bernie Sanders.
Experts said these changes would not have happened without millennials.
“The place has just become increasingly more progressive, as people from outside of Utah move to Utah,” said Pamela Perlich, the director of demographic research at the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.
Millennials define citizenship not as voting, “but being concerned about other people,” Dalton said. And they often show that concern by volunteering.
“Millennials are probably the most involved generation in history in causes and nonprofit endeavors and community involvement,” Hais said.
He predicted that when millennials begin to take office, the hyper-partisan nature of politics will shift to something more compromise driven.
“What we see now is terrible gridlock because of that baby boomer division,” Hais said. “They can’t see eye to eye, but millennials will be different. Millennial Democrats and millennial Republicans are closer together.”
ON THE WEB
Information about all of the requirements to register and vote in Wisconsin’s Nov. 8 election is available at www.gab.wi.gov/voters.
Sean Holstege of News21 and Dee J. Hall and Alexandra Arriaga of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism contributed to this report. This report is part of a project on voting rights in America produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 program. The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism distributed this report. For more from this collaborative series, see http://wisconsinwatch.org/series/voting-wars-by-news21/
ABOUT THIS PROJECT
This report is part of the project titled “Voting Wars – Rights | Power | Privilege,” produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 initiative, a national investigative reporting project by top college journalism students across the country and headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
University of Wisconsin-Madison students register to vote on Oct. 12 at the Multicultural Student Center. The registration drive was part of the Black and Brown Vote event aimed at urging millennials to vote in November.
Credit:Alexandra Arriaga/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
Dustin Lance Black campaigns for Clinton in Wisconsin
Donald Trump looks more and more like a ‘loser’
Newtown families’ lawsuit against gun maker dismissed
A judge has dismissed a wrongful-death lawsuit by Newtown, Connecticut, families against the maker of the rifle used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacre.
The judge cited an embattled federal law that shields gun manufacturers from most lawsuits over criminal use of their products.
State Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis granted a motion by Remington Arms to strike the lawsuit by the families of nine children and adults killed and a teacher who survived the Dec. 14, 2012, school attack, in which a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators with a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle made by Remington.
The families were seeking to hold Remington accountable for selling what their lawyers called a semi-automatic rifle that is too dangerous for the public because it was designed as a military killing machine. Their lawyer vowed an immediate appeal of the ruling.
The judge agreed with attorneys for Madison, North Carolina-based Remington that the lawsuit should be dismissed under the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which was passed by Congress in 2005 and shields gun makers from liability when their firearms are used in crimes.
Advocates for gun control and against gun violence have criticized the law as special protection for gun makers.
It became an issue in the presidential campaign this year when Hillary Clinton, now the Democratic nominee, criticized then-challenger Bernie Sanders for his support of the law in 2005.
Sanders, a Vermont U.S. senator, is now backing a bill to repeal the law.
Lawyers for Remington said Congress passed the act after determining such lawsuits were an abuse of the legal system.
But the families’ attorneys argued the lawsuit was allowed under an exception in the federal law that allows litigation against companies that know, or should know, that their weapons are likely to be used in a way that risks injury to others, and the judge disagreed.
“While the families are obviously disappointed with the judge’s decision, this is not the end of the fight,” said Joshua Koskoff, a lawyer for the families. “We will appeal this decision immediately and continue our work to help prevent the next Sandy Hook from happening.”
Jonathan Whitcomb, an attorney for Remington Arms, declined to comment.
The company recently had been fighting to keep internal documents requested by the families from public view. The judge issued an order in August allowing certain documents containing trade secrets and other information to be kept from public view, but she said the order did not apply to all other documents in the case.
Besides Remington, other defendants in the lawsuit include firearms distributor Camfour and Riverview Gun Sales, the now-closed East Windsor store where the Newtown gunman’s mother legally bought the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle used in the shooting.
Gunman Adam Lanza, who was 20 years old, shot his mother to death at their Newtown home before driving to the school, where he killed 26 other people. He killed himself as police arrived.
Total U.S. wealth doubled between 1989 and 2013, but probably not your family’s wealth
Total wealth in the United States doubled between 1989 and 2013, but the wealth of families in the middle of the economy barely budged during that period.
This finding comes from a new report prepared by the Congressional Budget Office for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent who waged a hard-fought battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“Over the period from 1989 through 2013, family wealth grew at significantly different rates for different segments of the U.S. population,” CBO wrote. “The distribution of wealth among the nation’s families was more unequal in 2013 than it had been in 1989.”
Sanders, in a press statement, said, “The reality, as this report makes clear, is that since the 1980s there has been an enormous transfer of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the wealthiest people in this country. There is something profoundly wrong when the rich keep getting richer and virtually everyone else gets poorer. That is unacceptable, and that has got to change.”
As of 2013, the top 10 percent of families owned three-quarters of total family wealth in the United States. The average wealth of the top 10 percent was $4 million, but families in the bottom 25 percent were $13,000 in debt on average, according to the CBO report.
More about the numbers
Since 1989, the amount owed by indebted U.S. families tripled. In 2013, families in the bottom 25 percent were $13,000 in debt, on average, whereas they had virtually no debt in 2001. A total of 15 million families were in debt in 2013, with an average indebtedness of $32,000.
Higher education plays a role in determining family wealth, according to the report. In 2013, households headed by someone with a college degree had four times more wealth than households headed by an individual with a high school degree.
Yet student loan debt was largely responsible for the increase in debt among the bottom 25 percent of families. Between 2007 and 2013 “the share of families with student debt increased from 25 percent to 36 percent, and the average amount increased from $24,000 to $36,000,” CBO wrote. The percentage of indebted families with outstanding student debt rose from 56 percent in 2007 to 64 percent in 2013, and their average student loan balances increased from $29,000 to $41,000.
“If we are going to reduce wealth inequality in this country, we must make public colleges and universities tuition-free and substantially lower student loan interest rates so that millions of young people do not leave school with a mountain of debt that burdens them for decades,” Sanders stated.
Justice Dept. orders phasing out of private federal prisons
The U.S. Justice Department announced on Aug. 18 that it was ordering the federal Bureau of Prisons to begin phasing out the use of private prisons.
Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision in a post on the Justice Department’s website. Yates said the order includes amending the solicitation for five private prisons in Texas from 10,800 prisoners to 3,600.
By May 2017, the Bureau of Prisons is expected to have 14,000 prisoners in private prisons, a decline of about 50 percent from a peak a few years ago. The bureau was instructed that as contracts come up for renewal, it is to reduce the numbers and, if possible, not renew the contracts.
David Fathi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, responded to the news in a press statement: “This is an important and groundbreaking decision. With its announcement today, the Justice Department has made clear that the end of the Bureau of Prisons’ two-decade experiment with private prisons is finally in sight. The ACLU applauds today’s decision and calls on other agencies — both state and federal — to stop handing control of prisons to for-profit companies.”
Wade Henderson, president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said the government is taking a “more humane and budget-conscious approach to dealing with one of the country’s most intractable problems.”
Henderson continued, “People in private prisons are more likely to be assaulted, have less access to basic rehabilitative services, and leave worse off than when they arrived.
“This is also a positive indication that the smart-on-crime approach to fair sentencing is slowly shrinking the largest prison population in human history.”
Another outspoken critic of the private prison system, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, applauded the decision.
In a statement issued on Aug. 18, Sanders, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination, said, “Our criminal justice system is broken and in need of major reforms. The Justice Department’s plan to end its use of private prisons is an important step in the right direction. It is exactly what I campaigned on as a candidate for president.
“It is an international embarrassment that we put more people behind bars than any other country on earth. Due in large part to private prisons, incarceration has been a source of major profits to private corporations. Study after study after study has shown private prisons are not cheaper, they are not safer, and they do not provide better outcomes for either the prisoners or the state.
“We have got to end the private prison racket in America as quickly as possible. Our focus should be on keeping people out of jail and making sure they stay out when they are released. This means funding jobs and education not more jails and incarceration.”
On the web
Read Sally Yates’ blog post here.
Poll: Political parties lacking appeal for young Americans
Most young Americans say the Republican and Democratic parties don’t represent them, a critical data point after a year of ferocious presidential primaries that forced partisans on both sides to confront what — and whom — they stand for.
That’s according to a new GenForward poll that shows the disconnect holds true across racial and ethnic groups, with just 28 percent of young adults overall saying the two major parties do a good job of representing the American people.
The poll shows that despite this across-the-board feeling of disenchantment with the two-party system, the Democratic Party holds a clear advantage in appealing to young people of color.
More than two-thirds of young adults, including vast majorities of young Asian-Americans, Hispanics and blacks, say the Republican Party does not care about people like them.
Democrats fare a bit better among young people overall, with a small majority — 53 percent — saying the party cares about people like them. Among young African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, most believe the party does care about people like them.
Among young whites, majorities say both parties don’t care much about them, including 58 percent who say that of the Republican Party and 52 percent who say it about the Democratic Party.
GenForward is a survey by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
The first-of-its-kind poll pays special attention to the voices of young adults of color, highlighting how race and ethnicity shape the opinions of a new generation.
The results of the survey of Americans age 18-30 reflect something of an identity crisis for both parties heading into the future, driven in part by deep antipathy toward the presidential candidates they nominated.
Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, the two least-popular presidential nominees in the history of modern polling, were opposed by large and bitter swaths of their parties.
Young people aren’t certain to fall in line behind the nominees, the survey found.
Three-quarters of young adults say the billionaire real estate magnate is unqualified to be president even after he vanquished 16 GOP rivals.
Half say the same of Clinton, a former senator and secretary of state, after unlikely rival Bernie Sanders forced her to fight for the nomination for a year.
But for all the disenchantment, young adults across racial and ethnic groups are mostly unfamiliar with their alternatives.
Seven in 10 say they don’t know enough about Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson to have an opinion about him, and nearly 8 in 10 say the same about Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
The 18-30 age group tends not to be a conservative constituency, so the survey contains critical data particularly for Democrats and Clinton, who has said she knows she has “work to do” to appeal to the young people who flocked to Sanders during the primary.
Young people across racial and ethnic groups were more likely to support Sanders than Clinton in their primary battle this spring, and among young Sanders supporters, less than half — 43 percent — say they’ll support Clinton against Trump in the fall election.
Three percent say they’ll support Trump, with the rest saying they’re undecided, will vote for a third-party candidate or will not vote.
The poll of 1,940 adults age 18-30 was conducted July 9-20 using a sample drawn from the probability-based GenForward panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. young adult population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.
The survey was paid for by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago, using grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods, and later interviewed online or by phone.
On the web
GenForward polls: http://www.genforwardsurvey.com/
Black Youth Project: http://blackyouthproject.com/
Wis. delegate informs, inspires young Dems
Wisconsin delegate Jason Rae, at 29 years old, is a seasoned veteran of Democratic National Conventions.
At the Philadelphia convention, his fourth, the Milwaukee man is leading the party’s youth council and mobilizing young voters for Hillary Clinton.
“I’m a lifelong Democrat — born and raised,” said Rae, who is the executive director of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
John and Lori Rae early on encouraged their son, who was in kindergarten when he informed them of his political interests and affiliation.
“I told them I wanted to work for Bill Clinton,” Rae recalled during an interview July 27 in the corridor at Wells Fargo Center near the entrance to Section 115, where the Wisconsin delegation is seated.
The Marquette University graduate dates his first political memory to 1996 and “watching the Democratic National Convention in 1996 and Bill Clinton’s speech.”
In that speech in Chicago, Bill Clinton memorably said, “We can only build our bridge to the 21st century if we build it together, and if we’re willing to walk arm-in-arm across that bridge together.”
Rae got on the bridge.
Eight years later, in Boston, he went to the party’s convention to nominate John Kerry.
Each convention is unique to the time, the place, the people and the circumstances, Rae said.
In Boston and Denver, Democrats nominated candidates with the goal of taking back the White House. In Charlotte, Democrats nominated a president they wanted to keep control of the White House. In Philadelphia, they nominated a candidate they want to continue the party’s occupation of the White House.
As a delegate to conventions in Boston, Denver and Charlotte, Rae represented the youth vote and inspired other young people to get involved in party politics.
At the convention in Philadelphia, his task is to inform and inspire young delegates and prepare them for the general election campaign.
“It’s my role. As a DNC member, I chair the youth council,” said Rae, who in 2004 became the youngest person ever elected to the Democratic National Committee.
At night, delegates are spending their time in the Wells Fargo Center arena, listening to speeches.
During the day, delegates are spending their time attending caucus and council meetings at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Delegates were gathering this week for the LGBT, black, Hispanic, AAPI and women’s caucuses, as well as for the ethnic, Native American council, disability, small business, veterans and military families, labor, faith, rural and youth councils.
At the youth council sessions, Rae is presiding over a variety of discussions and welcoming politicians addressing issues of concern to younger voters and how best to rally for the election on Nov. 8.
“The work is to turn out millennials,” Rae, who also leads programs to teach children about the democratic process, said.
Speakers at youth council meetings talked about reforming Wall Street and the criminal justice system, dealing with the student debt crisis, addressing gun violence, expanding and safeguarding LGBT rights, recruiting young candidates, legalizing marijuana and much more.
Attendees said the evening speeches at the DNC are energizing, but they are learning from youth council panelists how they can build an even bigger voting bloc for Democrats.
Rae acknowledged the strong support Bernie Sanders enjoyed among young voters and the protests continuing throughout the convention, even after Sanders’ speech on July 25 calling for unity.
“There was some disappointment,” Rae said. “It’s a grieving process. But at the end of the day, we are strong. We are uniting. And we are strong.”
Early on July 27, Rae said the highlight of the convention had been the roll call to nominate Clinton. “We made history,” he said.
That was before President Barack Obama’s speech, followed by Obama and Clinton embracing onstage. And that was before Clinton’s speech, set for July 28, accepting the nomination.