Democrats, led by young DNC delegates, say #LetAOCSpeak

Aug 17, 2020

Zenaida Huerta, Delegate, California’s 38th Congressional District (562) 360-4479
Joseph Mullen, Delegate, Florida’s 23rd Congressional district
Kai Newkirk Delegate, Arizona’s 9th Congressional District
Alan Minsky, Executive Director, Progressive Democrats of America, 818-749-9497

Push responds to John Kasich criticism and demands more speaking time
at Democratic National Convention for progressive champion

Democrats, progressives, and young leaders are demanding that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez be given more speaking time at the Democratic National Convention. Yesterday, as a new CBS poll showed that 62% of Democrats want to see Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speak at the Democratic National Convention, The Young Delegates Coalition, a group of 225 young Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Buttigieg delegates, and allies submitted a petition to the Biden campaign and the DNC making the demand. The CBS poll showed that more Democrats wanted to hear AOC than wanted to hear from Hillary or Bill Clinton and nearly twice as many as wanted to hear John Kasich. Despite that, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez has only been allotted 60 seconds of pre-recorded speaking time at the Democratic National Convention. Young delegates and leaders across the spectrum of the party say that needs to change.DNC, Biden, and convention representatives have not yet responded to the petition. Today, after John Kasich said AOC doesn’t represent the Democratic Party, organizers responded and are escalating their call.

Jewel Hurtado, DNC Rules Committee Member, young Sanders Delegate, and Kingsburg, CA city councilwoman says, “The DNC boasts big tents and inclusivity, but only gives our Latina Congresswoman 60 seconds to speak at the convention. I urge the DNC to practice what they preach. We need to see people at the table who look like us, share our values, and speak truth to power. Latinos need to be heard in this election –– it’s time we do that. AOC’s voice IS our voice. Shame on us if we leave her out of the conversation.”

“Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez is the future of the Democratic Party,” says Charlotte Clymer, transgender activist, former press secretary for Human Rights Campaign, and Biden delegate. “She has shown a remarkable ability to articulate a vision of our country that transcends party politics and resonates with a country crying out for leadership that will directly address the systemic inequality that has brought us to this point. Giving her 60 seconds isn’t just disrespectful; it’s incredibly shortsighted if we Democrats want to demonstrate to the country that our plan goes far beyond simply opposing Trump.”

The Young Delegates Coalition launched the petition on August 13th. In just three days, the petition has garnered over nearly 6500 signatures, over 520 of whom belong to delegates to the convention and DNC members. The petition states:

We call on you to have Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention or, at minimum, have as much time to speak as is given to Republican John Kasich. AOC is one of the Democratic Party leaders who is most respected by young Democrats and progressives. She is one of three scheduled Latinx speakers and one of two under 50. Giving her 60 seconds to speak is unacceptable. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez must be given enough time to demonstrate respect for her and the constituencies she represents and to allow her to make the case for why and how we must unite to defeat Trump and move America forward.

Joseph Mullen, an 18-year old delegate for Bernie Sanders from Former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s district, the 23rd in Florida, who started The Young Delegates Coalition, says “There is a stigma surrounding Democratic leadership amongst young people. To break that stigma, the party leadership needs to uplift the diverse future of the party, who aren’t part of the corporate or political elite, and giving AOC more time to speak would help her inspire my generation to keep engaging with Democratic politics to affect change.” Mullen responded to Kasich’s comments, saying, “Gov. Kasich, a Republican, does not have the right to decide who represents our party. The future of our party is diverse and young, and is far better represented by AOC than Gov. Kasich.”

“I want to see AOC speak because I see who I want to be in her,” says Zenaida Huerta, a Los Angeles County Democratic Party central committee member and Young Delegates Coalition leader representing Sanders at the Dem. Convention for the second time. “AOC is a role model for young women on how to stand up for oneself against bullies no matter how powerful they appear to be. AOC deserves a meaningful amount of time to address the young women she inspires. I look forward to nominating her for President someday.”

Progressive activist Kai Newkirk and the Progressive Democrats of America organization also helped organize the petition. Alan Minsky, executive director of Progressive Democrats of America, added, “By almost any discernible metric, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the rising star in the Democratic Party. Among young Americans, her popularity is truly astronomical. The Democrats need young people to vote this fall. The Party would be much better served by giving her 60 minutes as opposed to 60 seconds to speak at the DNC.”

“To defeat Trump we must unite our party and win the support of the young progressive left — many of whom are deeply skeptical of Biden but also deeply respect AOC,” says Kai Newkirk, progressive activist and Bernie delegate for Arizona’s CD 9. “She’s our best messenger to make the case to this crucial constituency for why and how we must unite to defeat Trump and move America forward.” Newkirk responded to Kasich’s comments as well, saying, “We should welcome Republicans into an anti-fascist coalition to defeat Trump. But we shouldn’t let them define our party & who represents it. Kasich is wrong. AOC is a ground-breaking congresswoman, top surrogate for our POTUS runner-up & trailblazer of policy agenda with big majority Dem support. The DNC and Joe Biden need to prove Kasich is wrong and show AOC the respect he won’t by giving her the keynote or at least as much time to speak at our convention as him. It’s nothing new for powerful voices, especially white ones, to tell a young brown woman who speaks up for justice that she doesn’t represent or fully belong in an organization or community. But Kasich is wrong about AOC and Dem Party leadership should stand up for her.”


1 Comment

  1. Jackie MacMillan

    Let Alexandria speak!