How I Became a DNC Delegate
By Anila Ali
The presidential candidates of the two major parties in the US have by and large emerged during state-by-state primary elections and caucuses that take place in winter and spring before elections. Candidates only become their party’s presidential nominee after a vote is taken by party delegates at nominating conventions. Delegates usually take their cue from the voters who cast ballots during their states’ primaries - to put it very simply. The role of the delegates is to represent their states at their party’s convention prior to a presidential election.
On April 18 th, I received an email confirming my District-Level candidacy for delegate for District 45. At that point, I didn’t know what to expect but as I read the fine print and realized that the elections were the same day as the 2 nd American Muslim Women’s Empowerment Conference (AMWEC), I was disappointed. More than 500 people were registered for this event that was of great significance for American Muslim women; and I was a part of the steering committee. For a week, I toyed with the idea of relinquishing my candidacy but, strangely, hesitated. In the meantime, I had planned to have a friend speak at the caucus for me. However, it was on the eve of April 28 th that my daughter came to me and said: “Mom, I am so proud of you! My friend at high school told me that he saw your name in the list of candidates for delegates and the caucus is in three days.”
I saw the look of pride in my daughter's eyes, and at that moment, I decided to continue with my candidacy. I immediately shared the news with my AMWEC colleagues, who were very encouraging and who even facilitated my coverage towards the late afternoon.
It’s hard to understand the process unless you actually experience it and so when I got to the polling station, I asked around asking the OFA (Obama for America) and DNC (Democratic Party) staffers about the process, I noticed other candidates lobbying to a growing line, and at that point I decided to jump right in. I had prepared some informational flyers about myself, nothing elaborate, just a list of achievements and goals, and I started distributing them to the voters. There were people from all walks of life and they genuinely listened, asking questions for clarification, when needed. I introduced myself to them and told them how passionately I had worked to support President’s agenda. After lobbying the lines, the candidates had a chance to speak to all the voters in a one-minute speech session. I vowed support for President Obama and his agenda. As I watched the voters perform their duty with my husband, son, and daughter, many voters acknowledged their vote for me as they passed us including one fellow teacher who told my daughter how proud she should be of her mother. Another lady said she voted for me because they believe in diversity and want to promote a moderate Muslim voice like mine. All the feedback was touching and inspired me to work even harder to build bridges and to distinguish the American Muslim woman as a valuable member of the society.
My faith in humanity is galvanized; my belief in the American dream is strengthened; but I am humbled by the greatness of my fellow Americans who voted for me.
In the end, it didn’t matter what color I was; it didn’t matter what religion I was; it didn’t matter what gender I was - what mattered was what I had done for my country and that record of service is what made me win and become the DNC Delegate (Alt) for the 45th Congressional District.
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