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Two Delegates On Preparing For the Democratic National Convention

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

And we're joined now by two delegates to this week's convention. Carla Brailey is the vice chair of the Texas Democratic Party, and Yasmine Taeb is a human rights lobbyist with the organization Demand Progress.

Welcome to you both.

CARLA BRAILEY: Hello. Thank you for having us.

YASMINE TAEB: Thank you. Happy to join you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I want to start by asking you, what were you expecting out of this virtual convention? Do you think it will allow your party to get as much work done and exchange as many ideas as you have been able to in past conventions? We'll start with you, Carla, and then Yasmine.

BRAILEY: Yeah, absolutely. I think - I will say the beauty of this is that people who may have not been able to participate in a convention in the past - they will be able to do that this time around. So I'm looking forward to it, and I do think we will be able to be just as productive.

TAEB: It, however, is challenging to be able to effectively advocate on various issues with DNC membership and DNC leadership, right? In terms of engagement, it does, unfortunately, make it a bit challenging.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yasmine, you supported Bernie Sanders in the primary, and there was some vocal outpouring when Kamala Harris was announced as Biden's running mate. Sanders supporters had been hoping for someone more progressive. Do you think that has hurt or helped Biden with the contingent of Bernie's supporters?

TAEB: You know, I got elected to the Democratic National Committee in 2016 as, you know, the first Iranian American, also the first Muslim woman. So for me, I very much understand what this means in terms of, you know, ensuring that we do everything we possibly can to defeat Trump because of the threats and assaults against so many of our communities. And my colleagues, for the most part, who have supported Senator Sanders feel the same way. And I think that the ones that are most vocal in terms of, you know, being critical of Senator Harris - you know, her policies - I think, to them, they see it as - I don't know - maybe their obligation to continue to advocate for progressive stances.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You know, I can't help but listen to you both and think that, in the runup to this election, the Democratic Party has become this big tent, right? There's even disaffected Republicans. John Kasich is going to be speaking at the convention. And I think this kind of speaks to this moment about opposition to Donald Trump. I'm wondering, though, as you look at the party right now, what you think - if you are victorious, if that unity will actually hold. Your view, Carla?

BRAILEY: Yes. I think we're going to see bipartisanship in a way that we have not in a very long time. The great thing about Vice President Biden that - he is also - he has the institutional knowledge, the relationships that have crossed aisles many times over. So I don't think we're going to see limitations in those relationships and interactions. I actually think that we're going to see more coalition-building across the aisle.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yasmine, what are you hoping to get out of this convention? What are you hoping to advocate for, and what are you hoping to see?

TAEB: So at least for me, I will be supporting and voting for the Biden/Harris ticket in November and looking forward to doing that. At the convention, I will be voting for Senator Sanders. I will be voting no on the platform because it doesn't include "Medicare for All."

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I just want to follow up because what I'm hearing you say there is that, you know, Medicare for All, which has always been a fault line in the Democratic Party, will continue to be one. I mean, you're not backing the platform because it's not there, even if you are going to be eventually voting for Joe Biden. I mean, he has made it very clear that Medicare for All is a nonstarter for him.

TAEB: You know, I think we need to really make it clear that we are going to be, you know, committed to and fighting for, you know, health care as a human right and moving away from a profit-based health care system. So I would hope to continue to advocate for various policies and continue to move our party further to the left and championing a progressive agenda.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Just briefly to you both - I mean, you've said that a virtual convention has its benefits. But there is an energy, right? There's a sort of celebration that happens when you gather people of the same party together. What will you miss the most?

BRAILEY: That's what I will miss the most, Lulu. For me, I remember attending the last convention not as a delegate, but as a guest. And being there - I can talk about so many moments. But when Michelle Obama came out and when - I mean, just the - oh, gosh, the energy, the adrenaline that's there. Now, that part I do not think is replaceable. But you have to do what you have to do during this particular period. But the social aspect of it is just - it's a great thing to be able to meet people who generally, you know, have some great similarities in terms of what they view. But, you know, the happy hours - the socializing part of the convention definitely is something that I know I will miss.

TAEB: Yeah, absolutely. I would agree with that. It's, you know, one of those rare events where you get to see colleagues from all across the country, folks that you communicate with regularly via email - but being able to actually see them in person, being able to strategize, coordinate and, again, fight together on various issues that - collectively that our communities care about. I would wholeheartedly agree that that is kind of the main thing that I will be missing.

BRAILEY: Yeah. The diversity just in that room is just something that you just can't - you can't explain it. You really can't put all of that in words in conjunction with the energy. It's just a wonderful feeling.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, I wish you both a wonderful virtual convention. That's Carla Brailey and Yasmine Taeb. They are delegates to the Democratic National Convention, which starts tomorrow.

Thank you to both.

BRAILEY: Thank you for having us.

TAEB: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.