Andrew Becker was born and raised in Eugene, Oregon. After coming back home from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., he got involved with several political campaigns and his local County Democratic Party. The Secretary of the Democratic Party of Lane County and Young Oregon Democrats of America (YODA), he views their journey as a repudiation of the political paradigm propagated by the funders of the Tea Party. “Patriotism has been hijacked. It means a lot more than waving a flag. It’s supporting the struggles the flag stands for,” he says. “Since our country was founded, great Americans have fought for causes such as civil rights, women’s equality, and protecting workers. They stood up for veterans and first responders, paid a living wage to the folks who teach our kids, and cared for our elderly, disabled, and sick. Great Americans protected our nation’s spectacular wilderness areas, built our country’s infrastructure, and made education accessible to everyone. People who fight the good fight for a better tomorrow define America— they are the true patriots.” A big fan of Howard Dean and George Lakoff, he hopes to use framing to fight for this notion of patriotism.
Becker worked in North Carolina on the Obama Campaign in 2008, so this trip will also be a reunion with his comrades-in-arms in the Tar-Heel State who helped turn the state blue for Obama the first time since Jimmy Carter.
Steve grew up in West Eugene — though the fields and forest lands there have been eaten up by concrete, the farming culture remains. Folks’ problems there inspire his interest in politics. His parents lost their house to a predatory mortgage when his father lost his small business to hospital debt, and those kinds of human problems are what drives his involvement. In 2008, he took a stand, left his day job, and ventured to Austin, Texas to work for Obama in the Primary with Andrew Becker. After that they kept on going—to the Philadelphia Primary, and to Seattle where they both worked as Assistant Directors of the DNC office. For the last four months of the election, Steve headed to the Oregon Coast to work for Obama. He is now a student at the University of Oregon, Vice President of the Lane County Young Democrats, and the National Committeemen of the Young Oregon Democrats.
“The Great American Awakening has begun,” Steve says, “and with our hard work and vigilance, standing and marching together, we Democrats and Progressives will change America for the better.” He claims this vlog is a universally American project. “The tough problems facing us are not the problems of any political party. They’re not North, South or coastal problems. They are American problems, and they need American solutions.” Coatsworth says they will interview any good-hearted, hard-working American who is willing to share, be they Democrats, Republicans or Independents. “We’ll be showing the everyday struggles of everyday Americans and highlighting their views on the state of our nation,” he says. The project is in part motivated by what he sees as the inability of cable news networks to accurately depicting Americans’ views. “The America we see reflected in the corporate news media is not who we are. We want to illustrate a truer, bluer America. We’re telling American stories the best way we know how—in the words of real Americans.”
The youngest member of this star-spangled trio is Celine Swenson-Harris, YODA Vice-President, Community Action Chair for the Democratic Party of Lane County, and a recent graduate of South Eugene High School. She will be casting her first vote this November for the President and “Democrats up and down the ticket.” She was drawn into politics in 2011 during the Strong Schools, Strong Eugene campaign. “I realized my high school was dying from lack of funding. In one of my classes, I had to literally sit on the radiator every day because there weren’t enough seats in our sixty-student classroom.”
Celine has since expanded her horizons towards labor organizing, volunteering for local Democratic campaigns, and starting a Young Democrats chapter at her high school…as well as becoming very active in her County Party and the Young Democrats. In the fall, she will be a Freshman at the University of Oregon, where she is already active in the Young Democrats group on campus.