What price unity, young delegates ask DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION

July 17, 1992|By C. Fraser Smith | C. Fraser Smith,Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Memo: To Democratic elders.

From: Heather N. Donaldson, 18, of Loganberry Land, Fulton.

Subject: Unity, individuality and the Democratic Party's future: "We have to discover our unity. It can't be forced on us," Ms. Donaldson said. If individual conscience is sacrificed to the goal of unity, she added, the party's future is in danger.

Ms. Donaldson sounded her cautionary message yesterday during a meeting of Maryland delegates. Her concerns were generated by Wednesday night's presidential voting on the convention floor.

Ms. Donaldson wanted to vote for Paul E. Tsongas. She and her friend, Dedrick Dunbar, 19, of Columbia, were among the last Tsongas holdouts.

But their independence was not welcomed by party chairman Nathan Landow or Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who wanted to cast all 85 votes for Bill Clinton -- and urged the delegation's two youngest members to fall in line. One did, and one didn't.

Famous all week for being young and staying at the Vanderbilt YMCA for $44 a night because they could not afford the $200-a-night lodging at the Helmsley Palace Hotel, these two Marylanders found themselves in the spotlight of controversy.

"I didn't think I was going to turn the tide for Paul Tsongas," Mr.Dunbar said. But he and Ms. Donaldson felt that the party elders had assumed they had their votes for Mr. Clinton without really asking. An oversight, the party leaders said.

"I wasn't sure last night if I did the right thing," said Mr. Dunbar, who voted for Mr. Tsongas. "This morning, though, I'm glad I did what I did. I would have felt badly if I had backed down."

Ms Donaldson did feel bad -- because she gave in and voted for Mr. Clinton. She said she had been made to feel as if she were an embarrassment to the state -- all because she wanted to vote her conscience.

At one point Wednesday night, she was in tears as various Marylanders asked her to vote for Mr. Clinton.

One other delegate, Frank M. Conaway, voted for Mr. Tsongas despite pressure from the delegation.

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