What We’re Doing
The Democratic Party is, and has always been, faced with the challenge of identifying policies that will better our nation. But, aside from the policy questions of today, the time has come to discuss a more fundamental question: What should the Democratic Party stand for?
Most of us have a opinion on this subject and, undoubtedly, Democratic Party leaders are working hard to develop a winning platform for 2004. That said, the rest of us – and young people, in particular – have a stake, and a say, in what our party stands for.
True, many of us in our twenties may not be in positions, individually, to heavily influence the discussions about 2004. However, as a group, we possess idealism, a fresh perspective and a genuine desire to impact our world – attributes that form the heart of an energetic Democratic Party. Not only do we desire to change the world, but it is clear that our generation will be responsible for whatever change occurs – or does not occur – over the next several decades.
Therefore, while Democratic Party leaders concentrate on the challenges of 2004, we, the conveners of 2020 Democrats, believe that our generation must look further ahead. We must look not two years into the future, but twenty. Our generation must unite to develop a vision that extends beyond the priorities of the immediate election cycle, a vision that articulates the long-term aspirations of our party. We must now begin to articulate our goals, refine our vision, and start the drive to make 2020 America our America.
BACK TO TOP
2020 Democrats began toward the end of 2002 as an e-mail discussion between Josh Green, 25, and Jorge Miranda, 23. At the time, Josh was working for a New York private equity firm, and Jorge was a public school teacher in Boston. Friends from their college days, Josh and Jorge began exchanging e-mails about how frustrated they were with the outcome of the November 2002 elections. Once they got past their frustration, they agreed that the Democratic Party faced three key challenges:
1) Articulating a compelling long-term vision for our country,
2) Proposing creative ideas to turn that vision into a reality, and
3) Connecting in a meaningful way to young people.
2020 Democrats emerged as a means to address these challenges. Recognizing that today’s young people would soon be responsible for guiding the Democratic Party, Josh and Jorge felt that it was time for young people to define a vision that we could believe in. The key was to develop a vision that was not only relevant a year from now, but also relevant a generation from now. And in order to create that vision, they figured the first step should be to simply ask young people what they hoped to see.
Rather than trying to sell young people on a closed, ready-made platform, 2020 Democrats was instead inviting them to participate in the actual creation of their own vision. Josh and Jorge believed that how this vision was created was just as important as what the vision eventually was and what was done with it.
As they approached friends and colleagues about 2020 Democrats, it became clear that they were onto something. The frustrations that had sparked the creation of 2020 Democrats also caused a generation of young people to wonder how they could get involved and make a difference. Hoping to recruit five individuals to help them get the organization off the ground, they soon had 75 volunteers who wanted to help in establishing this new movement.
In order to kick-off the organization, the founding committee sought to bring together 150 young people from across the country for a discussion on the world we want to see in the year 2020 and how we get from here to there. On May 26th, the founding committee of 2020 Democrats began a campaign to encourage young people across America to articulate their individual visions for the future. Theses visions were solicited from the broadest spectrum of young people possible, which included both those who had and had not participated in Democratic Party politics. Of those who submitted visions, 150 were selected to attend our first annual “Visions” conference on August 1st to the 3rd in Washington D.C. Conference members were greeted on the first night by speeches from President Clinton’s Chief of Staff, John Podesta, Vice President Al Gore’s campaign manager Donna Brazile, and Professor of Sociology at Harvard and author of Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam. On the second day, the conference participants began the hard work of not only creating a consensus vision, but also creating an organization, network, and movement to help sustain it and further define it.You can read the conference draft of our vision here (pdf format, requires Acrobat or other pdf reader).
2020 Democrats is now entering the next phase of it’s existence – bringing the discussion to an increasingly larger and more diverse percentage of America’s youth, through our web site and a network of regional chapters. We look forward to seeing the vision generated by the intelligence, creativity, and insight of the rising generation, and putting this vision into action.