Founder of Non-Partisan Millennial Action Project Discusses Virtual DNC, Voter Engagement
August 17, 2020
The slimmed-down Democratic National Convention is bringing about a lot of questions, specifically around engaging younger voters. Founder and President of the non-partisan Millenial Action Project Steven Olikara, digs into what might excite young voters and drive them to the polls.
MILWAUKEE (SPECTRUM NEWS) — The slimmed-down Democratic National Convention is bringing about a lot of questions, specifically around engaging younger voters. Founder and President of the non-partisan Millenial Action Project Steven Olikara, digs into what might excite young voters and drive them to the polls.
“Hillary Clinton didn’t visit Wisconsin and that was part of the rationale why the DNC wanted to have this convention here in Milwaukee […] so now, unfortunately, Vice President [Joe] Biden and a number of top Democratic leaders will not be here in Wisconsin,” Olikara said. “And so the real question comes down to, will people tune in? And how will Wisconsinites respond to the message? Will it be an authentic message that speaks to the issues people face every day?”
Despite the lack of activity in Milwaukee due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Olikara said to expect a lot more eyes on the DNC, and that there might be some pros to the mainly-virtual format.
“I do think the virtual format presents some new opportunities for people to engage for whom travel might have been a barrier to entry. So in this case, I do think a lot more people will be able to tune in,” he said. “This is a big technology challenge, and we’ll see if they’re able to reproduce some of the excitement for viewers that are tuning in.”
Olikara said a lot of those eyes are going to be tuning in to see how top Democrats can encourage change going forward.
“Wisconsin, in the context of the United States, is among the most polarized states in the country, and even the greater Milwaukee area is among the most segregated parts of the country,” he said. “So Joe Biden is clearly trying to make a play for restoring decency and uniting the country, and it’s extremely hard to do that. Especially in the context of so much turbulence [of] COVID-19 and the recent protests we’ve seen around racial justice.”
“I think the biggest question is whether he can articulate a narrative that includes everyone [….] that paints a picture of where we want to go,” he added.
Among the people tuning in will be younger voters, many of whom backed other candidates for the Democratic nominee spot.
“I think the biggest obstacle facing young people and their engagement this year is the issue of trust,” Olikara said. “You see young people disproportionately distrust the political system. I think part of what candidates today have to articulate is, how are they going to change the culture of our politics?”
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