Meet One Of North Carolina's Democratic Delegates

Aug 20, 2020

Ebony West
Credit Courtesy of Ebony West

The all-virtual Democratic National Convention ends tonight with a speech from the party's presidential nominee, Joe Biden.

This week, Democratic delegates from across the country, including North Carolina, have joined the convention mostly from their homes.

Ebony West, 25, says she misses the thrill of being in a packed arena. The self-described progressive from Durham was a pledged delegate for Hillary Clinton, the party's nominee in 2016. This year, she joined the DNC as a delegate for Senator Elizabeth Warren, who dropped out of the race in March.

West spoke with WUNC’s Will Michaels about striking a balance between pushing for progressive policies and supporting a more moderate candidate for president.

Interview Highlights

Ebony West: You know, I supported Senator Elizabeth Warren for a reason and a lot of it had to do with supporting a lot of her policies and her values. One thing that we do as delegates during the convention is vote on the platform. And so I actually voted against the platform because I didn't think it included some really key issues. We didn’t explicitly talk about, you know, Medicare for All, or a single payer system, in our Democratic platform, and so continuing to harp that not only at the state level, but the national level to make sure that is included in this next administration.

Q: In 2016, there was sort of a faction of the party that was referred to as “Bernie or Bust,” voters who said they would only vote for Bernie Sanders or no one else. It's hard to say exactly how many of them did not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016, or just did not vote at all. But notably, Bernie Sanders made an appearance at the DNC this week and said, “I'm putting my support behind Joe Biden, and you should, too.” Being a delegate for Senator Elizabeth Warren, are you on board with this message that everyone should get behind the nominee this year?

West: I'm on board with this message. And it's typically the message that I'm trying to use to encourage folks to vote you know, no matter who they voted for in this primary. No matter how progressive I am, no matter how different… opinions on policies that I might have, not only with the Democratic Party, but also with Joe Biden, or even, you know, Kamala Harris.

I think for me, I would rather continue to go forward on these progressive issues and holding them accountable and encouraging them to do more than to not be able to have a voice in this process, which is how I felt for the last four years. I felt silenced. And that I could see so many things that were progressive things start to go backwards, right. And I would rather push us left than go backwards.

Q: We talked about a few of the featured speakers this week, but one was former First Lady Michelle Obama. She said "If you think things can't get worse, they can and they will if we don't make a change in this election.” Is she right and is that the best way for the party to make its case for Joe Biden?

West: Yeah, I absolutely agree with what First Lady Michelle Obama said and I call her my eternal First Lady. When I think back to 2016, and some folks that I do know at that time who voted for Trump have since regretted that, the pivotal thing in their differing decision on presidential candidate this time is they didn't realize how just how bad it would be. And I think we're running into that same thing right now in 2020, where people are saying it can get worse.

You know, we're living in a crisis right now. We're living in a crisis around public health. We're living in a crisis around racial justice. We're living in a crisis around immigration, families being separated, we're living in environmental crisis. And so I think there's a lot of fear that is already out there. And we, as in the Democratic Party, can't get voters to join us in electing Joe Biden just by fear alone, right. Fear itself while a huge motivating factor, I know it's a motivating factor for me, it also has an aspect of hope, right, what can we look forward to? And how can the Democratic Party offer that?