May 11, 2007

First Person:

A Student’s Foray Into State Politics

By Zachary Warma

My name is Zachary Warma, and I am an eighteen-year old San Diego native. I am currently a senior at University City High School, and I will be attending Stanford University in the fall, where I hope to double major in History and Political Science.

My political involvement began in December 2003, when I was invited to the La Jolla Democratic Club’s Holiday Party. I was deeply struck by the fascinating people and discussions, and I made a conscientious decision in my mind that I wished to pursue a lifetime career in politics.

My entry into politics could not have come at a better time. The 2004 Presidential election had the whole country hooked on politics, and I was no different, walking precincts for several local and state candidates and even donating money to campaigns, what little I could.

In the fall of 2004, I started a Young Democrats Club at my high school, and over the past three years we have sponsored voter registration drives, assemblies featuring congressional candidates, and held meetings with prominent City Council members.

In Spring of 2005, I was appointed Sergeant at Arms for the San Diego County Democratic Central Committee, a position I proudly hold still to this day.

Recently, I was able to serve as delegate to California Democratic Party State Convention, held in beautiful San Diego from April 27 - April 29. I was elected by the full Central Committee, which was a tremendous honor. Though it was my third convention ever attending, this past one was by far the most thrilling. I sat no more than 30 feet from the podium, and was able to listen to speeches from nearly every major Democratic Presidential Candidate (and I shook Barack Obama’s hand; I was very excited). Getting to chance on proposed resolutions truly made me feel that I, albeit in a miniscule manner, was impacting the State Party.

Overall, I was rather suprised that my opinions coming into the convention were further reinforced by the candidates’ speeches. My initial gut feelings had me highly impressed with Governor Richardson’s intelligence and experience, yet lost in the glow that seemed to be coming from the Obama campaign. The two men certainly did not let me down. In any other campaign year, Bill Richardson would undoubtedly be my candidate of choice. Bi-lingual, incredibly articulate, self-depricating, and armed with an incredibly full resume, ranging from Cabinet secretary to UN Ambassador to New Mexico Governor, Richardson’s candor and belief in diplomacy rang true to me.

Yet I think my choice for the Democratic nominee is sadly a foregone conclusion. Barack Obama’s speech was like nothing I had ever seen before. My first ever rock concert was the Rolling Stones, my favorite musical group, playing at Petco Park, and that evening was incredible. Somehow, Barack managed to capture the energy of the Stones in a stump speech. His energy, enthusiasm, and idealism represent the most pure of American beliefs. Yes, his resume is not the most full, but one of my personal heros, Abraham Lincoln, served only one term in the House of Representatives before rising to the Presidency. So I hope Obama names Richardson as his running mate.

One of the biggest suprises, however, was the strength of Hillary Clinton’s speech. I had read all the articles that portrayed her as aloof, cold, and slightly out of touch with the average American. Senator Clinton rather effectively dispelled any such notions Saturday morning. She is a strong candidate, but the day was clearly won by Obama.

Senator Edwards, often portrayed as the third horse in the race, gave an exceptional speech, and his discussion of class and race in America, two issues that still remain unresolved in this country, is a message that American needs to hear.

Chris Dodd’s speech seemed perpetually stuck in second gear, and Dennis Kucinich, what can I say about the man, other than his wife bears an uncanny resemblance to Uma Thurman?

The best non-presidential speech was given by Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who whooped the delegates into a frenzy with her impassioned words about the Iraq war.

During the Convention, I also received news that I had won the CDP Internet Caucus’s Essay Scholarship, which was matched by former Controller Steve Westly and that will help to pay off the cost of Stanford. State Party Chairman Torres recognized me at the podium on the 29th, which was an incredible honor.

There are countless individuals who deserve thanks for helping me along my political path so far, but there are a few that particularly stand out. Sally Guza, Cheryl Phelps, Jess Durfee, Steve Rivera, Patrick Finucane, Andrew Kennerly, Phyllis McGrath, Steven Whitburn, Wayne and Seena Seward, and Pat Washington, among many others, have all helped to make both my foray into the arena that much more meaningful and enjoyable.

Political participation is undoubtedly the highest form of civic participation. I have long believed that regardless of what one believes, it is their duty to have their voices heard through the ballot box. Democracy and the will of the people is society’s great check against fundamentalism and anarchy, and everyone, regardless of any factor, should at least be paying attention to pressing current events.

Return to the Frontpage