YODA: The First Year

By Steve Coatsworth, YODA National Committeeman

As our allies at Planned Parenthood Advocates carry the torch for women's rights; as OLCV and friends work to protect the rustic beauty and natural bounty of Oregon's rivers, mountains and forests; as Basic Rights Oregon cries out for marriage equality; as CAUSA fights to protect the human rights of immigrants seeking out the American Dream; as Health Care for All Oregon fights for single-payer; and as our union friends call to action those concerned with the survival of our families and communities, a new generation of young patriots and activists is emerging.

In its inaugural year, the Young Oregon Democrats of America has established itself as a people-powered, progressive organization. We have the institutional capacity for a long-term   infrastructure that recruits, inspires and trains young people to offer the volunteers we need to elect  progressive Democrats and build leaders to make a bright progressive future for rainy Oregon.

And we are getting results. YODA President Melissa Erb has worked with DPO leaders to think strategically about YODA's longevity and effectiveness. Kathryne Maurer, our powerhouse UO Chapter's President, has transformed a once-small group into a weekly gathering of thirty-plus student Democrats who focus on local politics and voter registration. In this year’s primary election, local political heavyweights Kitty Piercy and Pete Sorenson tapped YODA activists to serve as campaign  managers and field directors. Greg Diamond, YODA's tech guru, is currently organizing for President Obama's campaign in the Midwest, and  Matt Keating spent most of the last year working tirelessly for progressive, pro-union Democrats in Wisconsin and Illinois.

From where we sit, the Democratic Party has traditionally been—and continues to be—the party that sticks up for the freedom and opportunity guaranteed to every American Jane and Joe, Johnson and Rodriguez, Wong and O'Malley. We believe it’s time Democrats reclaim and redeploy that starry, striped symbol that has been so poorly used by multinational corporations, the Far Right and neocons who abuse our military and its might. We will toe our way up every step, knock on every door and have conversations with every person in Oregon if that's what it takes.

We plan to celebrate our inaugural year of  progressive action, community involvement, organizational development and people-powered Democratic politics this September at our State Convention in Eugene. Chapter groups and interested young Democrats from all over the state eager to start high school, college, and county chapters are attending our “Freedom Extravaganza 2012: How to Out-American Everybody.”

If you’d like to be involved in the Convention, please email Kevin Cronin: kevin@ydoregon.org.


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