art by Favianna Rodriguez
“ Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. ” – Paulo Freire, Educator
Last week was a busy week for Christopher Preciado. The 19-year-old LGBT activist, who immigrated from Mexico to Nevada when he was in kindergarten, is that state’s youngest delegate.
At the Democratic National Convention, he made his way from caucus to caucus — LGBT, Hispanic, Youth Council, Women — taking in campaigning pointers from speakers to bring back to Nevada, a battleground state where Senate Majority leader Harry Reid won his race by a wide margin thanks to Nevada's rapidly growing Latino vote. In his home state, Preciado works for the Progressive Leadership Alliance on a project that seeks to build LGBTQ alliances in diverse communities.
Presente.org caught up with Christopher inside the DNC to talk about youth involvement in politics, his take on Julian Castro, and the legislative route.
Presente: What got you interested in politics and becoming a delegate?
Christopher Preciado: I was involved since the 2008 campaign. I was a freshman in high school at the time. I learned from a pretty young age that if you want anything done, you need to go through the legislative route. So if it was about getting more money for my schools or advocating for the causes that I care about, I needed to get involved with politics. Back in July, I ran in the state convention and I got elected. I really wanted to go to Charlotte because it would be my first time going to a national convention, and I thought that it was very important to highlight the fact that youth care about the process. There’s talk now about how young people don’t care anymore and that’s certainly not true. I wanted to represent here in Charlotte.
What was your first convention experience like?
Really, really amazing. The three full days of the convention were great. Day one was Michelle Obama and she gave an incredible speech…that day was just full of love. The following day, Bill Clinton gave such a resounding and reassuring speech and really convinced anybody that was undecided to go ahead and vote for Obama. And no other person besides Bill Clinton can really do it because he just has the gravitas and credibility and legitimacy to talk about the economy and to tell people that if you want the economy to grow, you need to vote for Barack Obama. And then the last day we had lots of great speakers from John Kerry to the governor of Michigan who just riled everyone up. And then Barack Obama. It was just full of love, energy and excitement.
The entire convention has really been a great experience. And I was so happy that I was able to experience it through being a floor delegate and not just watching it on TV. Being on the floor adds an even greater element of joy and really a sense of honor that you get to literally see these speakers from a couple feet away. It’s just been an awesome experience.
What did you think of Julian Castro’s much buzzed-about speech?
I think he represented the Latino community in an amazing way. The Republicans tried to highlight Marco Rubio but he’s not really in support of anything that benefits Latinos—Julian Castro is a great representative of our community and an amazing advocate. I loved that he was chosen to deliver the keynote address.
Speaking of Latinos, why do you think it’s important that we vote this election season?
Because we need to show that we’re not just one-issue voters—we care about everything, not just immigration. There are so many issues that affect young voters especially. We just need to get out there and get registered in order to show the public that we care about our country, we’re every bit as American as everybody else, and we care about the voting process. We need to get more Latino numbers out there…I encourage everyone to get registered, update their address, do whatever is necessary because it’s important that nobody overlook their vote.