Waves of music blast from calls put on hold. As a “Hello?” emerges from the speakers, the collective laughter and casual dance moves are temporarily suspended, followed by “Hi, I’m calling you to discuss the upcoming midterm election.”
These political activists, calling on behalf of Democratic candidates days before the Nov. 6 election, are too young to vote. They call themselves Liberal Action, a second-year club at Mountain View High School.
“The more time we spend pretending that politics is not affecting us and just being in our own little bubble, we won’t be prepared for the real world when it’s up to us to make the decisions,” said Tara Sabet, 15, Liberal Action’s social media manager.
Michael Love, 17, club president, launched Liberal Action in January 2017 in reaction to Donald Trump’s victory. With help from teacher and club adviser Mark Hollingshead, Love churned his emotions into action and searched for like-minded peers to join the club. He quickly found other youth feeling the same way – frustrated but hopeful.
Love said he and other club members were especially frustrated by the lack of social media activism and wanted to do more than just talk about the policital issues that flooded their screens.
“We would love to be making the decisions, but we can’t do that right now,” he said. “Keep in mind the world you’re leaving behind for the people who don’t have a voice yet.”
The school shooting in Parkland, Fla., early this year, which resulted in 17 deaths, made Love even more passionate about making a difference.
“I kept yelling at the TV or my phone,” he said. “I was that kind of guy. I needed to know I was doing something.”
Turning passion into action
Now 20 strong, Liberal Action focuses on supporting political candidates who do not take corporate political action committee money. Love said the club aspires to remove money from politics, implement background checks for gun owners, end racist policies and invest in green energy.
Along with participating in phone banks for the midterm election, Liberal Action has attended marches, organized school walkouts and sold pizza and cookies to raise money for the Democratic Party.
“My first challenge was keeping up with them,” Hollingshead said. “At first, they mentioned to me, ‘We want to meet every day, we want to do something every week after school.’ The students are super passionate.”
The impact of Trump’s presidency motivated Sabet to join the club. She is a second-generation immigrant from Iran. Her concerns include the travel ban and newly confirmed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“It hurts that I can’t vote, because it’s like my rights are slipping away before I even have a chance to speak up,” Sabet said.
The club has not only given her a community, but also a voice.
“We’re doing this the best way we can,” she said.
Hollingshead has been impressed by what the group has accomplished.
“These students do not only think that they are supposed to make a difference, but they really believe that they can,” said the history teacher and special educational leader, “and they believe they have a responsibility to do it.”
Hollingshead has curated a space for students to discuss their views on politics and how they can participate.
“The voters I am trying to shape are educated voters; I’m not telling them what or who to vote for,” he said. “I am trying to teach them how to navigate the system.”
The club’s next event will be a debate with Mountain View’s right-wing club, Young Americans for Freedom.
Mountain View also has a club called Social Awareness, which pursues topics similar to those of Liberal Action but does not focus on the action side of politics.