Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., complimented young Americans for their role in the 2008 General Election at a College Democrats-sponsored event Thursday night.
“It was your generation, especially all of you here today, that put Barack Obama on the map and made it possible for him to become president of the United States,” Schultz said. “All across this nation, young people have begun a new chapter of passion and commitment to civic engagement.”
Schultz represents Florida’s 20th Congressional District and is one of the Democratic Party’s chief deputy whips in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a chief deputy whip, she helps encourage party members to vote along party interests on legislation.
“I know from personal experience that young people, activists, campaigners, volunteers and voters are what bring real passion and fresh ideas and commitment to our political process,” Schultz said. “It really gives me great pride to know that all of you have gotten involved and that you have wisely chosen the Democratic Party as your political home,” she said at the event.
More than 22 million Americans under the age of 30 voted in the 2008 presidential election, increasing this number by two million from 2004, Schultz said. The 2008 elections were the largest turnout of this demographic in the history of presidential elections, she said.
This demographic favored then-Senator Obama over Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the presidential race by a margin of 34 percent, Schultz said.
Bo Hammond, president of AU’s College Democrats chapter and a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said he appreciated that Schultz had taken the time to meet with the chapter.
“She is in the thick of the action,” Hammond said. “It’s important to educate our members on the issues of the day, and the issue of the day is health care. She is on the firing lines right now, whipping votes, and we’re honored that she took the time tonight when the final vote is so close.”
The health care bill was passed in the House last night and will be sent to Obama for his signature.
Palak Gosar, a freshman in the School of Public Affairs, said having the opportunity to meet with members of Congress is one of the best parts about living in D.C. and going to school at AU.
“I always enjoy when we’re able to see congressmen and congresswomen come in and speak to us,” Gosar said. “The classroom gives us a really good academic perspective, but when congressmen and senators are able to come speak to us we get a more realistic, more inside view of how the city works.”
Tim McBride, who is also a freshman in SPA, said he felt the College Democrats were serving students well by bringing in interesting speakers. Earlier that week, the College Democrats had brought in Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., on March 15 and Ted Sorensen, President John F. Kennedy’s chief speechwriter and adviser, on March 16.
“It’s really what I expected when I came to AU,” McBride said. “We’ve been incredibly fortunate, in part because of our location but also because College Dems are such an active group and are known around the city.”
Gov. Jack Markell, D-Del., is scheduled to be the next College Democrats speaker. He will speak on campus April 12 at 6:00 p.m. in Ward 1.
Markell is currently serving as the chair of the Democratic Governors Association.