In February a group of Young Democrats in Arizona created a website to promote a proposal they authored to fix what many argue is a broken Arizona Democratic Party. Initially they chose to do so anonymously, fearing, and it turns out rightly so, that some older members of the Party would disregard their ideas without consideration because of their youth.
Their website and proposal made a big splash, getting to the point of reaching national attention on the Huffington Post where they decided to reveal their identities.
Many of the comments on the initial post on Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion about the proposal attacked the anonymous authors for not revealing their identities. The later post revealing the names shows why they chose anonymity in the first place.
The comment thread on that post became a back-and-forth about the youth of the authors. A few commenters, posting anonymously (ironically), attempt to dismiss the entire proposal by attacking the youth of the authors. Here are a few of the comments (all emphasis mine):
I’m all for kids trying to help on campaigns and play a role, and I understand they are giving themselves kudos on this blog, but these are truly bad ideas that have no place in a party that should be focused on winning.
We can all agree that things were not perfect in 2008, but anyone worth a salt has to admit that consequences of implementing the really naïve and elementary ideas outlined in this document would make things much worse in 2010.
Yikes! Did you read that schoolhouse dribble? The document was completely devoid of any intellectual heft, cogent strategy, or tactical know-how. No wonder they submitted it as anonymous…they probably wished they stayed that way.
It turns out that all of the authors have campaign experience and a number of them have been campaign managers of successful campaigns for Democrats, even in Republican areas, yet by virtue of relative youth (20s) some people completely disregard their ideas, even when none of the “old hats” are offering any ideas of their own.
The new President of the Young Democrats of Arizona, Pat Burns, has done a good job of defending young activists, and his comments on the post are worth reading.
I want to point out that a great deal of the older members of the Party are very supportive of youth and welcomed the authors’ attempt to foster a discussion about the direction of the Arizona Democratic Party. However, there are still outspoken critics within the establishment that attempt to silence young voices, and in this case even attack the character of young activists.
We have made a lot of progress in earning the respect of the older members of our state parties, but it is clear that there is still much further to go. I applaud those Young Democrats who put themselves on the line to make their voices heard, and encourage others to do the same in their own states and communities.