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Rising College junior Jack Cahill will serve as an at-large Pennsylvania delegate for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Credit: Chase Sutton

Co-director of Penn Justice Democrats and rising College junior Jack Cahill will serve as a delegate for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) at the upcoming 2020 Democratic National Convention.

Cahill originally ran to represent Sanders in Pennsylvania’s primary election on June 2, but did not receive enough votes to serve as a delegate for Philadelphia’s 3rd Congressional District. Now, he will represent Sanders as an at-large delegate from Pennsylvania. 

Cahill was selected to be an at-large delegate by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party on July 17 and was notified of his selection by the Sanders campaign. Even though former Vice President and Penn Presidential Professor of Practice Joe Biden formally clinched the Democratic nomination in early June, Cahill will still cast his vote for Sanders to become the Democratic party’s presidential nominee. 

Sanders ended his campaign on April 8, after a series of losses to Biden in crucial states, including losing South Carolina on Feb. 29 and winning only four states to Biden's 10 on March 3's Super Tuesday contests. Sanders was once considered the frontrunner for the nomination, winning early contests in New Hampshire and Nevada and leading national polls in February.

Due to party rules, candidates who drop out of the presidential race are expected to reallocate their delegates to active candidates. However, the Biden campaign agreed to fill the delegate positions that Sanders would be expected to give up — such as Cahill’s — with Sanders’ supporters in an effort to avoid bitter feelings between the Democratic establishment and Sanders' supporters. Sanders delegates will primarily serve to influence the Democratic Party platform.

Cahill will not be the only Penn student to serve as a DNC delegate this election cycle, as Penn Democrats president and rising College senior Owen Voutsinas-Klose was declared a delegate for Biden in mid-June. 

The DNC will be held mostly online this year due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. State delegates have been asked to stay home, and the convention will be modified to include “live broadcasts and curated content,” according to a press release

Though Biden has already secured the nomination, he is still expected to travel to Milwaukee and accept the nomination in person.

Leading up to the convention, Cahill and other nationwide delegates will submit a platform recommendation, or policies that delegates recommend be included in the Democratic Party platform, Cahill said. The recommendations will then be reviewed by a committee who will may or may not approve the platform. Delegates may also endorse platform recommendations by their counterparts.

On Monday, the Democratic committee approved a platform attempting to balance interests of moderate and progressive members. Cahill said he plans on opposing the party's platform because it does not include Medicare for All, joining a pledge by other Sanders delegates to vote agains the platform.

Cahill is representing Sanders because of his progressive platform, as he pioneered policies such as universal healthcare, a Green New Deal, and eliminating student loan debt during his presidential campaign. Cahill also pointed to Sanders’ decades-long support of these policies as what makes Sanders stand out as a candidate. 

“Consistency on these issues is extraordinarily unique, and it’s a once in a lifetime experience to be able to represent that on a national stage,” Cahill said.

Although Cahill’s primary role as a delegate is to influence the party's platform, he also believes that representing Sanders is symbolic of his continued involvement in Sanders' 2020 campaign. Cahill currently serves as the co-director of Penn Justice Democrats which was previously known as Penn for Bernie. The group trekked hundreds of miles to canvass for Sanders in the New Hampshire primary election.  

“I think it’s materially an attempt to shift Biden on his platform, but symbolically it stands testament to progresssive values that I fight for, and the values that I’ll fight for in the future,” Cahill said.

Cahill emphasized the role of young people in the political process, and how the mobilization of young voters could lead to large-scale political change in the United States.

“I think that the collective power of millions of young people [organizing] can really disrupt the establishment,” Cahill said. “Young people especially are convinced that their voice, when tied to other people their age, can be extraordinarily powerful.”

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