After weeks of hectic activity at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, I have returned to my life as a high school student at St. Stephen's and St. Agnes school. Indeed, my last few days at the convention were so busy that I eventually had to choose between getting any sleep or writing another post. Being a teenager, I chose the former. However, while I am back home in Virginia, my experience in Tampa and my duties as delegate still have a profound impact on my life. Not only because I am still asked to provide my young conservative perspective to various media outlets and aid various campaigns with speeches at local events, but also because of all I learned during these past few months about the Republican Party and the voters who comprise it.
Back in May I was honored by the Republican voters of Virginia's 8th
congressional district in being chosen to represent them as a delegate to
the 2012 National Convention in Tampa, Florida. My mission was twofold, to
represent both my constituents in Virginia and my teenage peers nationwide.
Although these two groups have been affected most negatively by President
Obama's policies, he is counting on them to win him the White House for
another term. As a lifetime Virginia native and the youngest delegate at
the 2012 convention (17 years old), I felt that I had a unique perspective
to contribute in order to sway those demographics to our side- and
apparently the voters in my district agreed.
However, in addition to enabling me to educate other voters about my
message and story, this experience has also educated me even more about what
lies at the heart of the Republican Party and conservative movement: a
profound respect for the views of younger Americans and concern about their
futures. Throughout the convention, my fellow delegates and RNC officials
accepted and even promoted my young perspective and ideas.
For example, before I ever left for Tampa, the national committee had
already contacted me multiple times and assigned special staff to assist me
in coordinating media appearances and interviews. One official was entirely devoted to handling my schedule and media appearances alone. Their interest and help enabled me to conduct in excess of 100 interviews (and counting) with
national, local, and foreign press on six continents. The pervasiveness of
my message worldwide speaks to America's importance across the globe and
therefore the impact that this election will have on nations other than our
own. Some of my most notable media appearances included hits on Fox News with Megyn Kelly, the CNN Newsroom, MTV, Seventeen magazine, The Washington Post, CBS, NBC, and Al Jazeera, among numerous others. I have posted links to some of these interviews below:
Fox News with Megyn Kelly: http://foxnewsinsider.com/2012/08/28/meet-evan-draim-the-youngest-delegate-at-the-rnc/
CNN Newroom: http://newsroom.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/28/meet-the-gops-youngest-delegate-at-the-rnc/
The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/va-politics/not-quite-old-enough-to-vote-teen-will-be-a-delegate-at-the-gop-convention/2012/08/22/d90a794a-ec7e-11e1-aca7-272630dfd152_story.html
The Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/virginian-youngest-delegate-at-gop-convention/article/2506092
Fox5 (DC Affiliate): http://www.myfoxdc.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=7683297
WGN TV: http://www.wgntv.com/news/wgntv-evan-draim-youngest-delegate-at-rnc-20120829,0,2766406.story
Education Week: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/08/conventions_youngest_delegate_.html
Reuters Two-Part Profile:
(Part 1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZ_B-j-hxOw
(Part 2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XdNgiZ-YEw&feature=relmfu
RNC officials were not the only ones who valued my experiences and perspective as a young American. Many elected Republican lawmakers also took interest in my story. During the roll call of states, Governor Bob McDonnell introduced Virginia to the convention audience by saying that our state was home to the youngest delegate at the convention, which was, of course, myself. After the roll call, Eric Cantor greeted me in the front row of the delegation and afterwards gave me a shout-out via his twitter account! As the most important swing state in this election, Virginia was rewarded with prime seating at the very front of the convention hall. The fact that I was given seating in the front row of this prime location is further evidence of the party's efforts to showcase me and promote interest in this election among my peers. That seat proved to be especially valuable on the last day of the convention. As Mitt Romney was walking through the crowd to the podium, he stopped to shake my hand before going on stage. The image was captured by virtually every cable news network following the speech, and my phone was going crazy with congratulatory texts from my friends.
In one of their most blatant displays of youth outreach, the
Republican Party originally scheduled me to address the convention and
worldwide audience on Monday night about the effect this
administration has had on younger voters. Although Hurricane Isaac
forced all proceedings on that day, including my speech, to be
canceled, the mere fact that they were prepared to give me a speaking
slot demonstrates that the priorities of the Republican Party and
Romney campaign are in the right place approaching November. Plus, I
enjoyed being driven to the rehearsals at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in
a private government vehicle!
In addition to all the work, I also made sure that I had a good time
while in Tampa, especially by taking advantage of the numerous country
artists in attendance (I am a huge country music fan). During the
course of one week, I attended concerts with Rodney Atkins, the Zac
Brown Band, Kid Rock, and Trace Adkins.
However, I always remembered who was really responsible for allowing
me to enjoy any perks at the convention. Both young Americans and
Virginia voters from my district gave me this position to convey their
concerns to the Republican Party and general public. Although I feel
that I was certainly able to accomplish my campaign promises while in
Tampa, my duties as national delegate should not end just because the
convention has concluded. 8th district voters, thank you again for the
unreal experience that you have given me and the trust that you have
placed in me to represent your values! Whether knocking doors,
conducting interviews, running young conservative organizations, or
speaking at political gatherings, I will never rest until we have a
President who actually respects and listens to those concerns and
values. The convention may be over, but now the real campaign begins!