MacIver News Service | Nov. 2, 2018
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON – Students at several Wisconsin high schools will demonstrate the power of the young adult vote on Election Day by walking out of their classrooms and marching to their polling places.
But like so many school “walkouts” in the Trump era, this get-out-the-vote display is being fed and led by powerful liberal interests.
It’s called #WalkoutToVote (of course it has a hashtag), and organizers say young people across the country will walk out of their classrooms to cheer on classmates that are eligible to vote.
At Shorewood High School in suburban Milwaukee, students plan to walk out of class in the morning, rally on the front lawn, and then march to three polling locations so “students 18+ can do their civic duties,” according to actionnetwork.org, the “open platform” host for the national demonstration.
But the demonstration of democracy seemingly turns into politicking for progressives when the young voters “head over to UWM (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) to do some phone-banking…” There will be pizza, and engagement on the “current political climate surrounding voting,” too.
As of this week, students from at least seven high schools in Madison and the Milwaukee area had signed up to walk out on Election Day, according to the #WalkoutToVote website. Schools include: Madison West High School; Waukesha North High School; Waukesha South High School; Rufus King International School; Lake View High School; Homestead; Whitefish Bay High School; and Shorewood. Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Waukesha County Technical College also have committed to the get-out-the-vote effort, according to the website.
Shorewood Principal Tim Kenney said the school does not sponsor walk outs, “for liability purposes.” As in past demonstrations this year on gun violence, students are required to receive parental or guardian permission, he said.
“If the students are going to participate, they are going to have to get called in and excused by their parents. School law allows that students can be excused 10 times a semester by their parents. At that point, once they are excused, it no longer becomes school time,” Kenney said.
Officials at Homestead were unaware of any organized student demonstration on Election Day. Administrators from several other high schools did not return MacIver News Service’s calls seeking comment.
“The school’s position on this is that we will support our students in their efforts and provide a safe venue for them to exercise their constitutional rights,” Shorewood’s principal added.
But the national demonstration is no simple a-child-shall-lead-them grassroots campaign. It’s being driven by one of the most active liberal politics organizers that you probably have never heard of.
The Action Network bills itself as an “open platform that empowers individuals and groups to organize for progressive causes.”
Action Network’s tech platform has been described as the left’s “Secret Tech Weapon In The Fight Against Trump.” It was instrumental in last year’s women’s marches and runs in the same circle as the Resistance movement’s Indivisible, the disrupter of conservative congressional member town halls. The network employs a suite of tech tools to drive left-wing causes.
And its founders are the tech architects for some of the nation’s most prominent Democrats.
Co-founder Brian Young worked on digital campaigns for John Kerry and Howard Dean. He helped launch the Action Network in 2012, after liberals were down-hearted about the waning influence of Occupy Wall Street, according to a piece last year in the left-leaning Huffington Post.
“The idea was to create something that would give activists an infrastructure that could help build lasting movements,” the story asserts. “It was used to organize rallies against the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline, and to arrange the 2012 Black Friday protests against Walmarts around the country, which stunned observers with their breadth.”
Where’s the money coming from? You guessed it, the big left funding machine. Action Network leaders insist they don’t have private backers but rather “contributing partners” that invest in the platform’s add-ons and premium tools. Those contributing partners include the AFL-CIO and the National Education Association. The Action Network has shared the same Washington, D.C. address as Change to Win, an SEIU and Teamsters-connected labor organization, according to a story last year in the Free Beacon. Mary Kay Henry, president of SEIU, has served as secretary of the network, according to the publication.
The Action Network is the parent company of the so-called Town Hall project, the national progressive clearinghouse for the town hall protests that inflamed the country during Trump’s opening months in office. Said project was launched by a former Hillary Clinton campaign staffer.
“The Action Network’s board of directors includes Mark Fleischman, a former vice president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); … Jeffrey Dugas, who worked for John Podesta’s Center for American Progress and Elizabeth Warren’s 2012 Senate campaign; and Rich Clayton, who worked for the SEIU and the shareholder activism arm of Change to Win, a labor group that describes itself as a ‘strategic organizing center,’” the Free Beacon reported last year.
And the National School Walkout, a demonstration against school violence, was the product of the Action Network.
Shorewood High School students participated in that march as well.
Kenney said he doesn’t anticipate any disruption of the school day during Tuesday’s walk out.
“Our students have been incredibly respectful,” the principal said. “It’s been a partnership between students, administration, and staff to do the activities they want to do and I am not expecting any disruption to our learning environments.”