Jason Raeyoungest superdelegate

This August, 794 of the highest-ranking members of the Democratic Party will convene in Denver for the National Convention to help select a party nominee for the presidential election. Among them will be Jason Rae. A 21 year-old junior at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Rae is the youngest of the 794 “superdelegates”. Rae, a Barack Obama supporter, shared his superdelegate insight in a recent phone interview with The WEB. W: How did you become a superdelegate? R:There are three different kinds of people who make up the superdelegates. First are members of Congress and Democratic governors. Then the last group are members of the Democratic National Committee. Because of my election as a DNC member (in June 2004) I automatically became a superdelegate for this upcoming election. W: What prominent Democrats have you met since your election to the National Committee? R: The best thing was getting to talk to Bill Clinton on the phone. It’s not everyday you have a former president call and talk to you personally. Half of the conversation was talking to me about what the campaign was doing, the other half was asking how things were going (with me). I’ve talked with (former Secretary of State) Madeline Albright. I’ve talked on the phone with John Kerry, I had breakfast with Chelsea Clinton, and I’ve had a meeting with Michelle Obama. W: Do you think superdelegates (whose votes carry much more weight than that of the average voter) take away from the democratic principle of equality? R: I think superdelegates add an important voice to the table in the sense that superdelegates open up the process to more individuals. Before the superdelegates were created, you would see members of Congress, governors running for delegate spots in their respective state delegations, taking away positions from other individuals. With the creation of the superdelegate, we were able to open up the process and allow more people to attend the national convention and participate in the selection of our party’s nominee. Superdelegates also do add a unique perspective to the race in general. It’s important to have a group that in the very, very rare instance that we go into convention and we don’t have a nominee and have to help make a decision. I think it’s good. They approach it with a lot of experience and perspectives and when you look at who superdelegates are, they are not party insiders sitting in a back room. Over half of the superdelegates are regular party activists like myself. They range from a variety of occupations and backgrounds from teachers and lawyers to doctors and realtors. It’s a whole perspective of individuals. Because that person who approaches it has a different outlook, I don’t think anyone can say it’s a bunch of old party hacks meeting in the backroom, because it’s not. W: Do you think there will be a nominee going into this year’s convention? R: I think we’ll end up having a nominee by the end of the primary process. I really think that both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama are politically smart enough to know that it would fracture the party and hurt our chances in November if we drag out the process any longer. W: You came out to the Democratic National Convention in 2007. How do you feel the gay rights movement is progressing? R: This will end up being the civil rights issue of our generation. It’s important that we make sure that all individuals in this country are afforded the same basic principles and rights that every other person has. It’s a movement we’re going to see more of and I think we’re just beginning now. It’s not only something important to our generation; soon, we as a nation will be willing and able to break all things considered unequal. W: Do you have any advice for high school students interested in politics? R: Get active and actually volunteer and participate in a campaign. Find an internship with a local elected official. The only way you’ll ever learn about the process is by taking the first step and volunteering and getting involved. Don’t ever think that you are too young to participate. Don’t ever think that you have to pay your dues and do this and that before you can make a difference. It’s important young people realize these opportunities are open and there for them and they should have to seize them and go for them with all their hearts. W: What are your political ambitions for the future? R: Someday I’d like to run for office. I’m not sure in what form or in what capacity. Political campaigns are a competitive thing, and when an opportunity arises you have to be ready to jump on that opportunity. Public service is a great way to give back to the community, and I would love an opportunity someday to give back to the community that has given me so much.