May 21, 2024

Gen Z isn’t sold on Biden but Anderson Clayton is out to convince them


When Anderson Clayton walks into the room casually wearing a enjoyable graphic tee, almost everybody’s head turns and the noisy chatter lulls into excited whispers. Eyes stay locked on her as she begins embracing every of her fellow Democrat leaders.

Clayton is considerably of an area movie star in North Carolina, her vitality sufficient to transfer an immovable object.

The remainder of the nation doesn’t realise that this 26-year-old is at the moment main the Democratic Party in North Carolina, a fairly critical job at any age.

But for these on the Young Democrats of North Carolina Convention, not solely is she the state celebration chief, she is the longer term.

Anderson Clayton speaks on the Young Democrats of North Carolina Convention

(Julia Saqui)

A pure politician, Clayton works the room recalling individuals’s names and a enjoyable reality about them all whereas spreading the nice phrase of the Democratic Party. After all, her job because the state celebration chair is to community, fundraise and get individuals to vote.

Yet Clayton approaches her function with a refreshing irreverence: She cracks jokes, swears like a sailor and drops “vibes”, “mood” and “feels” into her conversations.

When she speaks concerning the Democratic agenda, she doesn’t cease. In reality, she speaks a lot that by the point she takes the stage on the conference, her voice is hoarse and begins disappearing throughout inflections. That doesn’t cease Clayton from ad-libbing an impassioned speech concerning the significance of sustaining democracy and combating for the values younger individuals imagine in.

That enthusiasm is precisely what makes Clayton the right surrogate for the Biden–Harris marketing campaign in recruiting younger individuals to get out and vote, particularly in a possible swing state like North Carolina.

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Unlike many of her fellow Gen Z voters, Clayton feels overwhelmingly constructive about each Democrats successful this election and the presumed nominee, President Joe Biden.

She factors to Biden’s file on local weather change, his cancelling of pupil mortgage debt, his implementation of an anti-gun violence initiative, and his dedication to defending the suitable to an abortion as examples of insurance policies that resonate with younger voters.

“The issues that I hear a lot about in particular on college campuses right now are mental health, gun violence, [housing and grocery] affordability,” Clayton advised The Independent.

And Clayton talks to loads of younger individuals, always travelling throughout the state and nation. In February alone, Clayton visited South Carolina, Washington DC, Iowa and New York to communicate with younger voters.

Despite her eagerness, Clayton is absolutely conscious she’s within the minority when it comes to this election. On school campuses, the individuals she chats with usually are not amped about voting in November.

“I went to UNC Charlotte’s campus the other day, I was in a political science class, and I asked every single one of the students… ‘Raise your hand if you are excited to vote for the 80-year-old president’,” Clayton mentioned. “Nobody in that class raised their hand. And I was like, ‘But how many of you are still going to vote?’ Every single one of them raised their hand, except for one.”

Young Democrats sit round tables and hear to speeches on the Young Democrats of North Carolina Convention

(Julia Saqui)

A win is a win, so far as Clayton is involved. And she desires to remind younger those who they maintain the facility to change the issues they’re sad with.

“People look at you and say ‘You can’t do anything about it either, it’s just happening to you.’ And I’m like, ‘No, we can do everything about it.’ And this presidency, this administration has said so because we can push him,” she mentioned.

Clayton believes Biden is extra seemingly to hear complaints and reply to them with laws, in contrast to the presumed Republican nominee – a choose-your-fighter state of affairs, if you’ll.

“We can’t push a Donald Trump, who doesn’t want young people to have the right to vote right now. We can’t push a Donald Trump, who doesn’t want people to have the right to abortion. We can not push that type of president,” Clayton mentioned. “We can push a president, though, that believes and cares about young people. We can do that. And that’s why I tell them, ‘You need to vote this year because you still want that.”

And the best way that Clayton begins that dialog ranges from handing out flyers on the farmer’s market and politely asking individuals in the event that they’re registered to vote, all the best way to dancing in a large inflatable eagle costume.

“She’s really doing it all,” Quentin Wathum-Ocama, the president of the Young Democrats of America mentioned.

“I’ve been around long enough to see and I don’t know if there’s another comparable state party chair, anywhere in the country, to her. What she’s able to do and the energy that she’s able to bring,” Wathum-Ocama mentioned.

Eve Levenson, the 24-year-old Director of Youth Engagement for the Biden-Harris re-election marketing campaign, mentioned that Clayton is an exceptional surrogate.

“I think that having somebody who is so young and has been able to have that public platform… has been really inspiring to so many young people and I think will continue to be,” Levenson mentioned. “Folks like Anderson are going to play a key role in helping us reach other young people.”

Obviously, Clayton is an anomaly – she turned the youngest state celebration chair within the nation when she was elected last year at just 25 years old. Meanwhile, most eligible Gen Z voters don’t belong to a political celebration.

But Clayton empathises with their place as a result of it took her some time to discover her method to politics. She hails from the agricultural city of Roxboro, North Carolina and spent most of her life disengaged from both political celebration, accepting her Republican state and city as the established order. It wasn’t till 2016 that she realised unified voters have the facility to change something after she watched Watauga County, one other rural space of North Carolina, flip blue the identical yr Donald Trump gained.

After graduating from school, and feeling impressed, Clayton moved again to her hometown to provoke related change by serving to flip the Roxboro City Council from purple to blue.

“I could have changed it all along if I’d just looked at my backyard and gotten involved,” Clayton mentioned.

Anderson Clayton, 26, catches up together with her fellow younger Democrats on the Young Democrats of North Carolina Convention

(Julia Saqui)

These days, she’s rallying a room of 300 younger Democrats whereas working on simply 4 hours of sleep, as a result of she spent the night time earlier than giving one more speech on the governor’s mansion.

In Clayton’s perfect world, her laborious work will repay and never solely will Biden win the 2024 presidential election but North Carolina will flip blue. In 2020, Biden misplaced the state by roughly 75,000 votes. With greater than eight million Gen Z voters newly eligible this yr, Clayton hopes her vitality can convince a few of these in North Carolina to again Biden.

“If I didn’t believe that we could win, and I didn’t believe it down to my absolute core, I couldn’t do this job as effectively as I need to,” Clayton mentioned. “That’s why I’m in this job. Because I believe that the Democratic Party right now is fundamentally the party that is speaking for the majority of Americans and the majority of North Carolinians at this moment in time.”



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