Trojans get political

Trojans+get+political

Nina Elkadi

Every Wednesday after school, a group of students face the flag to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. This group of five attend Republicans Club. In the room next door, at the exact same time, a meeting for the other major party in the US is being held by the Democrats Club.

“I’ll have students that come to me and say, ‘There’s a Republicans club? Wow, I didn’t know that!’” Jeff Kelley, teacher and Republicans Club adviser said.

“[Democrats Club] is not a Bernie Sanders club, it’s not a Hillary Clinton club, the goal is to work to elect Democrats. We advocate for all candidates’ campaigns that are carrying the party’s banner … this is an umbrella group,” Mitch Gross, teacher and Democrats Club adviser said.
In Iowa, political candidates can be found at every corner preaching their views to gain the votes of Iowans. Even in liberal-dominated Johnson County, it’s still logical for there to be a Republicans Club.   Many high schoolers don’t have a strong enough interest in politics to join one of the politics-related clubs at West, but after taking AP Government her junior year, Ally McKeone ’16 was “put over the hill.” “I’ve always been really into learning about social issues, but then I took AP Gov. That’s what hit it off … I’ve always loved politics since then,” McKeone said. McKeone is now the President of Democrats Club, and has been a part of Hillary Clinton’s campaign since early May. “I phone bank, so I make calls to people and I make voter contact to see if people support Hillary. I go door to door and do high-traffic canvassing, which means you go to areas with a lot of people and ask if they support Hillary,” McKeone said. The President of Democrats Club is not the only one with the experience of volunteering for political campaigns. Tim Gomendoza ‘16, President of Republicans Club, volunteered in the 2014 elections.

“Last year a man from the Republican Party came on down [to the club meeting] and asked us if he could do a little presentation. We invited him in and he introduced us to this opportunity which was to help out and volunteer for the Republican party here in Iowa,” Gomendoza said.

McKeone got involved in the Hillary campaign through Facebook.

“I went onto Hillary for Iowa’s Facebook page, and it was like ‘click here to sign-up’ and then I messaged them and asked how I could really get involved,” McKeone said.
For most high schoolers interested in politics, it’s less about not wanting to get involved and more about not knowing how. “You can go on the candidate’s website, and almost always they have ‘sign-up’ here if you want to volunteer, or you can go on their Facebook pages and sign up,” McKeone said. Iowa is a hot spot for presidential candidates, so some have campaign offices here. Hillary for Iowa has a location on East College Street, and Bernie Sanders just opened an office in Kennedy Plaza. “The one great thing about Iowa is, and I think people kind of lose sight of this, if you want to meet someone who will probably be the President of the United States, this is one state where you can do that,” Kelley said.

Most campaigns allow people of any age to help volunteer. With volunteering, there is flexibility to decide what you want to do and what you don’t want to do.

“Campaigns are fun, especially in a community like Iowa City. So many people who work on campaigns are younger, and it’s a real vibrant atmosphere,” Gross said.

There are websites dedicated to when presidential candidates are visiting Iowa, and a simple Google search can turn up thousands of results for events. With access to so many political events, encouragement to get in involved can be found everywhere.
“For even those that aren’t very politically involved, this is a year to start paying attention, a lot of exciting things are going to be happening,” Kelley said.