As in Montreal, there is a Père-Marquette park in Milwaukee where, on Thursday morning, Rick Kemp, in his mid-twenties, had stopped with his bike, in the heart of a city largely devoid of its passers-by, despite the Democratic National Convention which, since Monday, has been orchestrated virtually from the Convention Center, two streets away.
He said he was a Democrat, but had never yet voted. He said he was going to do it this year, “because we can’t give him four more years,” he said without ever naming Donald Trump. But he also said he was not “very concerned” by the first days of this mainly televised Democratic political high mass. COVID-19 obliges.
“You saw,” said the young man, a social science student. They bring us the same old party people. Bill Clinton. Hillary. John Kerry. Barack Obama. Even Jimmy Carter. This is not what my generation wants to hear. On Tuesday evening, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (a young rising figure in the party) did not even have a minute to speak. And besides, it was just to support Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for a vote the result of which was known in advance. “
In metropolitan Wisconsin, the Democratic National Convention has unfortunately not moved the crowds this year. But for the past few days, it has been blowing a little wind of discontent on screens and online among certain fringes of democratic youth who deplore the lack of space that the event gives to the progressive figures who inspire them. “The Democratic Party does not understand that Bill Clinton does not speak to the voters he needs: young people,” Angela Rye, former director of the African-American parliamentary group in Congress, summed up Wednesday on CNN. “What we have seen is the old guard of Democratic politics,” lamented in the pages of the Washington post Joseph Mullen, 18, a delegate for Bernie Sanders who last May launched a coalition of young party delegates seeking to bring new blood into the Democrats to support a possible candidacy of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the 2024 presidential election.
The Democratic Party does not understand that Bill Clinton is not talking to the voters it needs: the young
From Pennsylvania, where he heads the McCourtney Institute for Democracy, an influential state university research center, Christopher Beem says he understands the criticism. But he also seeks to put it into perspective. “Yes, few young progressives are on the program,” he said in an interview with the Duty. But Democrats know who is watching. Convention audiences are always older than the average American. So they want to take this opportunity to squeeze some of these older, perhaps more conservative Americans into Biden’s camp. “
A delicate path
The bet is risky, since it has the potential to perpetuate among the youth the image of a party which is still rolling on its old ideas. “Young Democrats want substantial changes in policies and institutions,” concedes Paul Nolette, director of the Department of Political Science at Marquette University in Milwaukee. The Democratic Party’s approach borrows from Warren Harding’s 1920 campaign a hundred years ago, calling for a “return to normalcy.” This framing, while it risks losing young people, may however be effective for Joe Biden, a very conventional politician. After Trump’s last four years, voters might prefer this mainstream after realizing that Trump’s disruptive approach ultimately did not work. “
The quest for some can be done without harming the support of others, the young, believes Democratic strategist Patrick Guarasci. “The many voices that make up the very large house of the Democratic Party have so far been united by the convention,” he said. Joe Biden is not the voice of status quo. He is asking voters to stand up to support a better America that works for all. Not just people who wear MAGA caps [Make America Great Again, le slogan de Donald Trump]. What young progressives are also calling for.
Wednesday evening, moreover, the Democratic convention did not forget them, by devoting long segments of its programming to the plans of Joe Biden in terms of the fight against the proliferation of firearms and the fight against climate change, themes which brought him closer to American youth, who were widely mobilized against the inertia of the old parties on these major questions of society. Singer Billie Eilish was also present on the third night to remind people that “silence was not an option” next November.
A unifying program
“If Joe Biden were to implement his platform, you would see expanded access to health care and medical coverage for all, better access to higher education, support for cities, for the working class and for the middle class, significant advances in environmental matters, says Guarasci. These are radical changes he is proposing. “
In the empty streets of Milwaukee, Jane Mulroy, a farmer from northern Wisconsin, took to town on Wednesday to protest, disguised as Miss Liberty, right outside the Convention Center, and to hope for these changes, as did the young people who it, are not neglected by the democratic convention. “The convention does a good job on social networks,” assured the young forty-something. I believe that young people are massively affected by this election. It’s happening on the Internet for them. But they understood that the stakes were high this year, not just for them, but for everyone. “
On the airwaves of NPR radio, Joaquin Castro, president of the Parliamentary Group of Latin Americans in Congress and deputy for Texas in the House of Representatives, assured this week that “young Latino voters”, an ordinary electorate difficult to reach, would go “to vote massively this year, because they know that Donald Trump wants to ruin their future”.
Jane Mulroy also believes her future is on the line. “Our farm has been a family business for four generations. And I doubt we’ll make it to a fifth. To get out of the current crisis, the federal government wrote us a check for $ 37. And we have to pay taxes on it. She also said she prayed that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris win the ballot next November. “If the Republicans win, I would have no choice but to change the color of my dress [son déguisement de Miss Liberty] in black, because the United States will then die, ”she concludes.
This report was funded with support from the Transat International Journalism Fund-The duty.