DocJess: How did you decide to become a delegate?
Jordyn Tannenbaum: I became involved with Bernie Sanders’ campaign shortly after it launched. This will be my first time voting in a presidential election, and I wanted to do everything I could to get him on the ballot in November. While working with the campaign, I came across an invitation to apply to become a delegate. Although I didn’t know much about what that meant, I thought it might be an exciting thing to do. It turned out to be a great idea.
DJ: What was the process like?
JT: It was actually quite hectic because you can only be a delegate of the district in which you’re registered to vote. So although I live on campus, my legal address is back home in Bucks County. It was a struggle because I was commuting every day to get all of my petitions signed in such a short window, in addition to all the campaign work I was doing at school. On top of all that, I had to keep my grades up. I made the Dean’s List for the first time this year.
It was definitely a lot of work, but also fun. I spoke to people I know about issues I care about and met new people who taught me a lot about how the process works. One of my favorite parts about campaigning at home was gathering signatures from students at Bucks County Community College. Many were eager to ask questions and share their opinions, and some were looking for ways to get involved. It was definitely worth it, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
DJ: How did you campaign?
JT: At home, I could only campaign through social media. I received a lot of support from friends and family and tried to get as many people excited about the campaign as I could. Back in Philly, I helped organize and run “Penn for Bernie,” so I had the opportunity to mobilize students and faculty as well as residents of West Philly in order to bring as much attention to the campaign as possible. We hosted phone-banking and canvassing events in addition to voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. We also hosted social events, like debate watch parties and BYOs. My biggest role in the campaign was having one-on-one conversations with people in both the city and the suburbs, letting them know what Bernie stands for and why I support him.
DJ: Which issues are most important to you?
JT: The biggest issue for me is income and wealth inequality because I believe that really governs all the other issues. With Citizens United in the mix, we’ve essentially legalized corruption. Further, income inequality leads to a great divide in education which becomes a source of many other problems, rather than solutions. If people on the poorer end of the spectrum can’t get a good education simply because of where they live, the system works against them before they even have a chance. It becomes harder for them to get good jobs, a decent income, and the cycle continues.
I’m also very passionate about equal rights, especially for the LGBT community. As a transgender person myself, I am beginning to learn what it’s like to have basic rights threatened. It’s becoming widely apparent that we are the GOP’s latest target. They’re still trying to overturn the marriage equality decision, and now they’re increasing their attack on the LGBT community by attacking trans rights, for example with bathrooms in North Carolina. This is dangerous not only because it threatens the health, safety and well-being of trans people, but it also distracts us all from the more important issues.
DJ: What are you looking forward to at the convention?
JT: I’m so excited about everything! Like I said, I’m new to the political process, so I’m excited to see how everything works in real time. I’m looking forward to all the fun events too. Democrats are in the process of coming together, and after a long exhausting primary, I think we’re finally going to have some sense of unity. No doubt about it there’s more work to be done and progressives are still going to put up a fight on the floor, but I think there are more things that bring us together than divide us, so I think the whole week will be more about celebrating that.
I’m also looking forward to getting involved with and meeting other young delegates. It’s exciting to see a generation of future politicians and activists coming together, and I look forward to working with them in the future. I’m also excited for the Progressive Caucus events, where we’ll plan how to preserve the energy of this campaign beyond the convention.
DJ: Do you know anyone who will be attending the convention?
JT: I know all the delegates from my district: we worked as a team to collect signatures, and I’ve kept up with them ever since. I also have a friend who is a delegate from CD 2. We worked on the Penn for Bernie board together, so it should be fun to meet up with her at the actual convention after all the work we’ve done the past couple of semesters.
DJ: So, will you vote for Hillary?
JT: Bernie has endorsed her, and I likely will, but she still needs to earn it. A lot of progressives feel that way too. She hasn’t always represented our interests the way she claims she has, but I think her campaign is working hard to reach out to us and I respect that. The platform is the most progressive one we’ve had in a long time. If Hillary continues to push the progressive message along, I don’t see the problem in voting for her.
As I’ve said, this is my first presidential vote, and it would be a shame to have to vote against a candidate rather than for one. I’m hoping with the help of the progressive movement that we can make Hillary the type of candidate I’ll want to vote for.
DJ: Do you have any final thoughts?
JT: I’m pleased that the platform is starting to look progressive, and I’m excited for these values to invite people into the party who wouldn’t be there otherwise. I’m passionate about getting more young people involved, and I think many will be excited with the direction in which this party is heading. I believe the more honestly we speak about the issues, people, especially young people, will see that we are capable of making the changes that we need. I hope people will begin to understand that democracy isn’t easy, and it takes a lot of effort to make it what we want it to be. Participation goes beyond voting. It means speaking up, protesting when necessary, staying open-minded and listening to each other. I’m looking forward to seeing more people involved even after the election. I know I will be.