The stories of the nearly 1900 delegates who represented Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this last July are as varied as the coalitions he brought together. But the common thread among all is a passion for the Vermont Senator’s message and a commitment to bringing about a political revolution.
Fawaz Anwar is no exception. At 19, Fawaz Anwar was one of the youngest delegates at the convention and he represents the dynamic youth that are ready to move the party left. We sat down with him recently to share his musings and reflections on his experience as a national delegate.
Progrexas: What was your history in politics/activism before this last election cycle?
Fawaz: I was inspired by Obama in his 2008 campaign; I was 11 when he became the President. I grew up with him, you know? Around 2011, I drifted to the right, in fact, I was for Ron Paul in the 2012 GOP Primaries and then Gary Johnson. I was worried about police militarization and freedom of speech, I was a Libertarian. Then I realized that taxes aren’t theft, healthcare is a right, etc. Nowadays, I still think guns are fun (unlike most Dems), and I actually want to discuss civil liberties because of those days. After that election, I realized I’m definitely on the left (I had just finished AP American History), and that’s when I knew I was a Democrat. I know that Obama has certainly reneged on his 2008 campaign, but I remain inspired nonetheless.
Progrexas: What led you to get involved with the Bernie Sanders campaign?
Fawaz: When his campaign began in April 2015, I was a senior in high school. (I’m now a sophomore in college now. Good lord!). I had just finished my AP Federal Governmentt class, and by then I knew I was a Democrat. Initially, I was looking for an alternative to HRC because she tried banning my favorite video game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, in 2005. I’ve never liked her since. I was originally for Jim Webb, but then his “All Lives Matter” comment disqualified him in my eyes. While Lincoln Chafee is a good man, I just couldn’t connect with him. As for Governor O’ Malley, he supports the drug war.
So, I was left with the Senator from Vermont. I thought he’d drop out by January 2016. I felt like the natural successor to Obama was Bernie. I saw a lot of similarities between Obama 2008 and Bernie 2016. Then I saw this video, and that’s when I knew, Senator Sanders was my horse in the race.
Progrexas: What did your work with Bernie’s campaign teach you?
Fawaz: The American left is alive and well. As Senator Sanders said, “when we work together, when we join together, we are unstoppable.” I learned a LOT about life and this country I love. I really do love America. I believe that under this fascist as President, the left will finally take to the streets and resist in a way not seen in this country since Nixon.
I also learned that most adults are just faking it. Again, when this started, I had just turned 18; now, I’m almost 20. I often worked with folks quite older than me and I learned that, in a way, we’re all just trying to make it, no matter what.
Progrexas: What did you learn from being a delegate at the national convention?
Fawaz: As a delegate, I learned that the Democratic Party needs a return to its (modern day) roots. I enjoyed seeing lots of hardworking public officials, but when Mayor Bloomberg came, along with several other people, I was sickened. That’s not what this Party is supposed to be about. People like FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ (to a lesser extent), Carter, Speaker Sam Rayburn, Rep Shirley Chisholm, Sen. Yarborough, Gov. Ann Richards, Gov. Mario Cuomo, Sen. Wellstone, all these Democrats would be appalled at what’s happened. As Dems, it’s time for a bit of a history lesson. We’ve taken a right-ward shift. And I get why. During the Reagan years, America was not left at all. But times have changed. As Senator Sanders’ campaign has shown, America is ready for a progressive era again.
I had a good time but I also saw the corruption upfront. I also got flipped off by a Fox News anchor!
Progrexas: What have you been working on since the convention?
Fawaz: Well, I am now President of the College Democrats at UT Dallas. I’m also co-chair (with Kenith Gonzalez) of Texas Democrats for Keith Ellison. Additionally, I am Assistant Campaign Manager of Dani for Congress. She is running against Rep. Pete Sessions in TX-32 for 2018!
Other than that, I have delved back into my studies. I’m still a full-time student at UTD. Next semester I plan to work on local campaigns (cities and schools in May 2017). I’m already saving money for the 2020 Primaries, I’ll be damned if I’m not at the 2020 DNC.
Progrexas: Are there any ways our readers can help you with the work you’re doing now?
Fawaz: If you’re a Texas Democrat, please sign this Google form. We’re collecting signatures in support of Keith Ellison.
Also, The DNC is having a candidate forum in Houston on Jan 27 or 28. I plan on going there to support Keith Ellison; I hope you do too!