I had originally had the idea of starting a chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists at Redlands High School when I stumbled across our website in early October. I suggested the idea to a few friends, who voiced the opinion that such a club simply could not survive at our school, or even in our town.
Redlands, after all, is probably the most conservative town in the Inland Empire, an area of California which is rivaled only by Orange County for conservative politics. The only question come election time is whether Republican incumbent Jerry Lewis will be upset by whatever candidate the Libertarians have found to challenge him. The Democrats don’t even bother. A campaign by anyone left of Lewis would be a waste of time and money. Perhaps needless to say, the political climate in this area, and even at the high school, is not conducive to progressive ideas.
After a few weeks of recruiting, though, I had managed to find an adviser and a small but dedicated group of members willing to give Socialism in Redlands a shot. At RHS, however, this is not enough to be recognized as an official club. All student organizations must be approved by the Associated Student Body.
The ASB advisor is a woman not inclined to approving new groups of any kind, let alone an organization which she saw as being dedicated to radical politics. Fortunately, the final decision did not lie with her. Instead, we had to make our case to the Interclub Council, a group made up of representatives from on-campus clubs ranging from Dictionary Club to Mock Trial. After a little lobbying, Young Democratic Socialists was put on the agenda for consideration at the next ICC meeting.
By unfortunate coincidence, we were scheduled to make our case on the same date as the newly formed Young Conservatives Club. This club, which started because the already existing Young Republicans Club was seen as not being conservative enough, was the brainchild of my own United States history teacher. It might be unfair to describe this teacher, who shall go nameless, as a fascist. However, I would argue that her support for the mass deportation of Muslim Americans, which she was kind enough to share with the class (which contains a Muslim student) would probably qualify her as being somewhat farther right than even the more extreme wing of the neo-Conservative movement.
I am not paranoid enough to have really worried that our conflicting politics would have a negative impact on my grade in the class. Nevertheless, the prospect of arguing for the approval of a Socialist chapter in front of such a woman was somewhat intimidating. Then again, perhaps it was no more intimidating than the prospect of arguing for the creation of such a club at all in Redlands.
After at least one delay, our appointment at the ICC finally came. I was relieved to see that we were scheduled to speak after representatives from Magic Trick Club. YDS seemed that much less frivolous by comparison.
In fact, the confirmation went off without a hitch. Well, our representative insists that the Young Conservative corner of the room was “glaring hatred” at him throughout his presentation. This may be true. And he was certainly asked by the ASB advisor whether our group had plans for a violent revolt against the administration. In the end, though, we were confirmed in a unanimous vote.
It is a small victory for the revolution - but a victory nonetheless.
Written by Joel Wacks - Chapter Leader of Redlands High School YDS