Taking the Next Generation into Politics

Two LASA seniors work to become DNC delegates and bring the perspective of an increasingly politically active youth population


Malena Heineman and Nia Orakwue

As politicians worldwide focus their attention on COVID-19, young people such as seniors Ben Porter and Aaron Booe, a commentary editor on the Liberator, are not halting their interest and involvement in government.
According to Porter and Booe, they have decided to become involved in politics in an attempt to make a difference by becoming Texas state delegates for the Democratic Party. Porter found out about the opportunity through AP United States Government teacher Ronny Risinger and decided to look into it from there.
“I heard about this originally from Mr. Risinger when I was in Government,” Porter said. “He said there were a lot of opportunities to run for state delegates and run for national delegates. That was something I was interested in so I did some research… I got accepted to be a state delegate and, because I had so much time because of COVID-19, I decided that I’d run for national delegate as well.”
As delegates, Porter and Booe can attend democratic conventions and vote on national delegates. Their vote will represent the votes of those whose geographical area they represent.
“It’s all about the electoral process,” Porter said. “Delegates vote on issues so like I’m a state delegate and so is Aaron. We’ll vote on Texas issues like law reforms. We also vote on national delegates.… You’re casting your vote for the populous that elected you. That’s basically how we choose our candidate to run against Trump.”
Booe, who is also a Democratic National Committee (DNC) delegate hopeful, thinks he would be a good candidate because of his unique perspective on politics based on his connection to many different marginalized groups.
“I am a person who is fit enough to be a delegate for the DNC because I belong to a series of marginalized communities, which definitely helps me look at power as a tool to both be reprehensible about and hopeful about also,” Booe said. “When I look at government institutions and the way that they disenfranchise communities I belong to, I obviously feel sort of left out. In order to circumnavigate that, I understand I have to participate in politics and I have to push for everything that I can possibly push for if I want to help make the DNC more diverse in the issues that it stands for.”
Similarly, Porter believes his unique perspective comes from his youth and desire to represent young people in politics.
“I feel like the youth movement [is] just starting to get a voice in politics and I’d love to be a part of that movement,” Porter said. “I think that just getting people there so we can represent our issues is very important so that we can try to make a change and make a difference, and so that our historically more progressive viewpoint as the youth gets heard and that we can contribute to the process.”
Booe is not only interested in this opportunity to advocate for the communities that he represents, but also to defend and support candidates he trusts. As a long time supporter of Bernie Sanders, he is turning his attention more towards politics and advocacy.
“As a self-coined ‘Bernie Bro,’ I am obviously very sad about the fact that Bernie withdrew his campaign and decided to endorse Joe Biden,” Booe said. “That definitely makes me want to do this, because when I look at Joe Biden, and I look at his campaign, the stances he’s taken on critical issues, I don’t think they are strong or passionate or defensible morally. I think in order to build a party that accurately represents people, we need to take firm stances on a range of different policies— things like Medicare for all, universal childcare, a Green New Deal— all of these issues that young people care about, and a lot of older people care about. So I’m very excited to go to Milwaukee to push for those things.”
Porter says that he is using this opportunity to both bring more attention to young voices and gain experience in politics. He also expects this experience to serve him well in the future as he plans on continuing to pursue his interests in college.
“I think I was most excited about being a part of the process and understanding how it works,” Porter said. “I know in theory I’m very interested in politics. That’s going to be my major in college, but I haven’t had any real-world experience with that because it’s really hard to do as a youth. It seemed like a great way to get involved and get some hands-on experience.”
Through his experience as a delegate, Porter has been exposed to the complexities and structures of the political system. In college and beyond, he plans to pursue a career in politics and serve his community.
“It’s interesting to see those trickle-down politics, and in the future, I’d love to run for public office or work for a campaign,” Porter said. “Obviously, that’s a far future aspiration, but it’d be cool to be a public servant in that way.”