“Isn’t it thoughtless to support Hillary just because she’s a woman?” Ironically enough, a Gender Studies classmate posed this question in the fall of 2015, cocking an eyebrow in my direction. I had just finished confessing my love and support for Hillary, and I hadn’t anticipated public disagreement. The class seemed to overwhelmingly agree with my challenger as a sea of heads nodded furiously. Everyone went on to espouse the virtue of Bernie Sanders and the authenticity of his presentation. I felt dejected, mentally accepting that I had to curb public Hillary love for the sake of social grace.
In the liberal bubble of Seattle, where I’m from, Bernie support was fervent and unified.
As high school students, group identity is essential: it’s empowering.
Priuses and Subarus cruising down I-5 were more often emblazoned with #FeeltheBern bumper-stickers than not. They were a critical mass, a vocal majority. And that was a new feeling for me, a Democrat who was used to being comfortable and in alignment with my peers. While my ideology has far more in common with Bernie Bros than my school’s meager population of Republicans, I began to empathize with Republicans’ frustration about the weakness of their collective voice. As high school students, group identity is essential: it’s empowering, it’s self-consciousness-diffusing, and it’s identity-defining. To feel alone was weird and disconcerting. Mixing that to Gloria Steinem’s insinuation that young girls only support Bernie because the boys do and the ensuing public backlash cooked up a recipe for silence until Hillary’s official nomination.
Once it became clear that Bernie’s path to victory was narrow, Hillary supporters “came out.” One by one, friends would admit their stance; teens across the country can corroborate this narrative of reluctant emergence from the shadows—I know of quite a few secret, pro-HRC Facebook groups that were ultimately made public. Even so, youth were unsure of what they could do to help. Social media posting can feel like a drop in the ocean, and without a vote, what can teenagers do? That’s where I saw an opportunity: to unite us, to activate us like Bernie supporters, and to arm us with facts and volunteer opportunities to get our first female President to the White House. And because of this, High Schoolers for Hillary was born.
What is High Schoolers For Hillary, pray tell?
High Schoolers For Hillary is an online resource and social community, forming a national, diverse coalition of high school students/young folks enthusiastically supporting Hillary Clinton for President. My friend Hayden and I traveled to the Hillary for America Headquarters in Brooklyn, NY to volunteer and learn from campaign leaders in fields like campus organizing and millennial strategy. From there, we took our vision to Squarespace, researching and writing our hearts out to complete a website.
We aim to curate and crowd-source our content—like issue coverage, blog posts by high schoolers, and debunked myths about Hillary—to both increase political literacy and prove wrong the pervading notion that young people don’t like Hillary. Most importantly, High Schoolers for Hillary offers opportunities to take action and register to vote. We’ve scheduled our first phone-banking event in Seattle (register here) and are shooting to host similar gatherings across the country. We have awesome representatives on the ground in 5 states (and counting!), including a few chairs of High School Democrats chapters, official campaign fellows, and lit mag and school newspaper editors. We are constantly seeking fresh voices to organize events and contribute content. If you’re interested in joining our movement—no experience required—please reach out to us on social media @HSforHillary or email firstname.lastname@example.org!
I’ve always been all in for HRC, not just because she’s a woman but because of her lifelong championship for women and children, unparalleled experience, and coalition-building acumen. If she was your #1 choice, then High Schoolers for Hillary’s most definitely engineered for you. But I recognize the problems with her campaign and her past. I see people’s concerns and how they fuel agitations for anti-establishmentarianism. And guess what? If you’re begrudgingly or skeptically supporting Hillary to defeat Trump, you’re a newcomer to politics, or you’re simply in need of volunteer hours, this movement exists to meet your needs and support you. This movement is for all, and I hope you’ll join us.