Civics: The College ‘Grass-Roots’ Organizations That Aren’t

Daniel Bring:

If college students are politically conscious and impressionable, they might find themselves pawns of national political nonprofits masquerading as student groups. Such outfits, on both left and right, are expanding rapidly on campuses and recruiting students to advocate for their ideological agendas.

At Dartmouth, where I am a student, the midterm elections convulsed the campus. Student canvassers recruited from the college filled social and study spaces. These progressive “community activists” littered walls with posters and harangued students constantly to sign Democratic Party voting pledges. They knocked on the doors of every dorm room. Their activities, uncoordinated with the College Democrats or local party affiliates, baffled me and many others.

Soon it became clear that they were volunteers for an organization called NextGen Rising. The group’s marketing materials declare: “We’re young, powerful, and progressive, and we’re fighting for positive change—in our communities and on the ballot.” NextGen Rising isn’t the youth-led grass-roots organizing movement it pretends to be. It’s a subsidiary of the NextGen Climate Action Committee, a political-action committee formed by sexagenarian billionaire Tom Steyer.