PETE PRENDERGAST ’16
EDITOR in CHIEF
In an election year as unprecedented as 2016, the need for political activism is as important as ever. When gaps between ideologies in among presidential hopefuls have grown to the levels seen in this cycle, there is heightened urgency in the importance of advocating for a candidate and immersing one’s self in the political process. This year especially, every vote counts. Over Trinity days, Trinity students Emily Moony ’16, Elaine Kissel ’16, Zorina Akhund ’16 and Julia Conforti ’16 traveled to Nevada for the democratic caucuses to volunteer for the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Earlier this year, political science professor Diana Evans put Mooney in contact with Trinity alumni Luke McCarthy, who is an active member of the Nevada State Democratic party, and an organizer for Clinton’s campaign. McCarthy invited Mooney and Kissel out to Nevada in January to work as members of the campaign’s political team.
Coincidentally, Trinity days fell this year on the same weekend as Nevada’s democratic caucus date, so the pair recruited Akhund and Conforti and flew back to Las Vegas for the caucus.
“They put us straight to work the second we got there,” said Akhund. “We got off the plane and went straight to the Hillary Clinton headquarters and immediately started to work. We got our assignments as they were happening.”
Mooney and Elaine spent their time organizing events and speaking engagements for prominent Clinton supporters, which included securing endorsements from local elected officials. “It was really cool because we got to see a really vital role of the political process,” said Mooney.
The group also worked relentlessly at answering phones and directing voters on specifically what to do. “The day of the caucus is really confusing in Nevada because they just recently adopted a new system,” said Mooney. “No one knew where to go or how to register, so we were in charge of giving them voter registration, and telling them how the caucus works. There was about 20 of us at the headquarters and we answered over 30,000 phone calls in a span of five hours.”
Their involvement with the campaign afforded the group the opportunity to meet a number of celebrities and notable politicians, including America Ferra, Dolores Huerta, Tony Goldman, Chloe Moretz and congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.
Mooney, Conforti, and Akhund all agree that the most surreal moment of their weekend came in the final hours of voting. “The most memorable part of the weekend for me was when we finally got the ok that Hillary had won,” said Mooney. “We were in a room of a bunch of old, powerful women who had been with Hilary for years, and therelief on their faces when we won was inspiring.”
“I had never been in a working environment where it was predominantly women,” Conforti added. “The mentality and camaraderie around Hillary was insane.”
Kissel, who spent the final hours of voting at Clinton’s rally, remembers feeling as if she was a part of history. “Everyone was overjoyed and on the verge of tears,” said Kissel. A lot of people say her campaign isn’t inspirational, but when we were there, that wasn’t true at all. It was very inspiring and everyone had a lot of energy and was so proud of what they had accomplished.
Kissel, Mooney, Akhund and Conforti all expressed the pride they felt from being a part of something as important as the Nevada caucus, as well as how important it is to each of them to be politically active.
“One of the most important things we learned was that every vote counts,” said Akhund. “Not many people in our generation show up for caucuses, or vote in primaries, because they have this mentality that their vote doesn’t matter. But it truly does matter, especially at this stage.”
Conforti, Mooney, Kissel and Akhund all plan to stay involved with the Clinton campaign, and plan to volunteer during the democratic primaries in Connecticut next week. Mooney and Kissel also plan to continue their work for the campaign after college as full-time organizers for Clinton.