Swing School: Young Democrats and Young Republicans Clubs

Swing School: Young Democrats and Young Republicans Clubs

With the 2012 presidential election rapidly approaching, some students may begin to wonder how they can get informed and involved in politics. Seniors Ryan Ellis, Edelawit Hussien and Anna King chose to get proactive: Hussien and King formed Young Democrats Club, and, in turn, Ellis created the Young Republicans Club.

Young Democrats Club

After receiving an application from social studies teacher Rebecca Anthony for a fellowship with Obama for America, senior Edelawit Hussien started getting more involved in politics. She became interested enough to start Young Democrats Club, a club for students to learn more about the candidates and issues.

“Because it’s an election year, there’s a lot more opportunities to get involved in the democratic process,” vice president Anna King said, “so we started to a forum for people who wanted to talk about different issues.”

Anthony, who is now the sponsor of the club, thinks the turnout for the meetings has been promising.

“We haven’t really had meetings, but the room is pretty full. I would guess about 20 to 25 kids show up,” Anthony said. “They’re a group of mostly seniors and a couple juniors that are politically-aware and wanted to get involved.”
One of the goals of the club, according to Hussien, is to help re-elect President Obama; however, she, along with King, want to mainly focus on simply developing students’ political awareness so they can make informed decisions about what they believe.

“Overall, our main goal of the club is to educate people, become educated voters and educated citizens,” King said.

“It’s really not about going out and swaying people to your political views, but providing an opportunity for students who want to get involved,” Anthony said. “It’s great to encourage political participation, but we just need to let people make up their own minds.”

Members of the club are planning to have election watch parties and have been volunteering with Obama’s campaign. They have toured the local Obama for America campaign office and have run their own phone bank, where the students call registered voters in the area to ask them to volunteer with the campaign. Some of the members have even travelled to Iowa (the first swing state to begin early in-person voting) to canvas neighborhoods, which they have the opportunity to do every weekend.

Hussien and King encourage students who are unable to vote in the coming election to still be informed of the issues, and the students who are able to vote should study up on the candidates and issues before the polls open on Nov. 4.

“An uneducated vote is worse than no vote,” Hussien said.

Young Republicans Club

Immediately after the Young Democrats club was approved, senior Ryan Ellis approached social studies teacher Tina Griggs to propose a Young Republicans club. Griggs signed on as a sponsor, and the club was created in a matter of hours.
“We thought it’d be a nice complement to have both political parties represented equally at our school,” Ellis said, “and to offer students a chance to voice their opinions.”
The club meets every other Thursday at 7:10 a.m. to discuss the election, the candidates and the issues.

“We have had several teachers come in and get into debates with the students,” Griggs said, “which brings up a lot of good issues and good debates.”

The two clubs are planning on holding mock debates between members to precede the Presidential election.

“Right now we’re just in the preliminary stage, but we’re going to focus on getting debates,” secretary Sarah Hansen said, “so we’ll be preparing for those.”

Both clubs plan to send a representative to social studies classes to talk to students about the clubs and why they should join and get involved in the election.

Although the clubs have opposing political views, most of their plans include working with each other on educating students.

“I think that whether you are in Young Republicans Club or Young Democrats Club, I think that involved, period,” Griggs said, “because this generation needs to know that they are the next ones to fix a lot of our problems.”

Ellis and the other executives also working on getting Kansas State Representative Kelly Meigs to speak to students and to offer her political knowledge.

“It’s really important to educate people especially since this is highschool and we’re about to go into the world and form our own views,” Hansen said. “People definitely need to have an understanding of politics and how the government works.”

“My hope for the clubs is that kids will research and find out what they believe on their own,” Griggs said, “without their parents telling them that, ‘We are a republican family,’ or, ‘We are a democrat family.’ I want them to be informed.”

Ellis also wants to make the club interesting and something that will get students excited about. He hopes that it will help students become more involved in the world around them.

“We want it to be fun, and we want it to be interesting,” Ellis said. “We don’t want it to just be a second social studies class.”

For more election coverage, check out “Swing School” in the most recent issue of the Passage.