New political group founded by AU students, alumni hopes to mobilize young progressives
Blue Future aims to match college-aged volunteers with progressive campaigns
Less than a year ago, AU alumnus Nick Guthman canvassed for then-candidate Hillary Clinton with his friends from AU College Democrats. They’ve since launched a progressive political group to empower young people, amplifying their political voices on local and national campaigns by getting them involved with the campaigns directly.
Blue Future equips young people with the skills they need to be effective volunteers, organizers and public servants by matching volunteers with progressive campaigns. The group’s founders, including AU alumna Valeria Ojeda-Avitia and current students Devontae Torriente, Ben Davis and Morgan Stahr, said they believe young people can create a future that centers on the needs of marginalized communities.
“We’re not doing anything that I think is particularly profound,” Torriente said. “To me, it’s common sense that we are tapping into an under-utilized resource at AU and beyond and that’s college people, that’s young people. They’re the ones that politicians and elected officials and people running for office don’t see as a reliable constituency, but I see us as the most viable constituency.”
Torriente, an AU senior and former student government president, is very familiar with the ups and downs of the political game. He serves as the head for the Progressive Leaders Initiative, the development and training program for the group that focuses on preparing young people to both work on and run successful progressive campaigns.
“It feels like politics is sort of this amorphous thing that’s really over our head and we don’t have a grip on what’s going on,” Torriente said. Young people are affected by everything that goes on in the federal government, in state government and local government as well.”
Guthman, the field coordinator for Americans for Tax Fairness and an AU alum, heads the group’s political team. After spending much of his college career with AU College Democrats, eventually serving as president of the group, he started thinking about how to organize young people to assist campaigns outside of voting.
“What we’re trying to come up with … is a set of non-negotiables we feel embrace pretty much everything across the board of progressive ideals,” Guthman said. In this list he includes candidates being pro-choice, anti-racist, believers of climate change and supports of DACA.
The group is setting up young people to work on campaigns that align with their ideals. Now, they are looking to partner with the campaign of Ralph Northam, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Virginia.
For recruitment of both leaders and young people to get matched with campaigns, Blue Future uses a tool called Action Network, a comprehensive online toolset built for progressive groups mobilizing for various capacities to work on campaigns. However, they are also taking a personal approach and reaching out to their personal networks to bring them onto the Blue Future team.
They want to ensure that all members of the core group have a personal investment in progressive politics since they are still building the group from the ground up. They are now focusing on AU students and resources in the short-term.
“But long-term, the plan is definitely to expand beyond D.C. and to make sure that we’re reaching out to college campuses across the country, and also to high schools across the country,” Torriente said.
Guthman and Torriente both said they are passionate about developing a diverse, multi-racial team of young people who are supportive of the mission of the group.
This story was originally published in the Oct. 20 print edition of The Eagle.