Should the School have a Third Political Party Club?
BY GEORGE JI '23
From their inception, two parties have dominated the Acton-Boxborough political club scene: the Young Republicans and Young Democrats. For years, politically active students have had the option to join either club to engage in political activism. However, that is where their choices end. For as long as most students can remember, this is how it’s always been. Amidst the ever-growing partisan tensions, is it time for a third political party club in our school?
In American elections, the possibility of a third major party has been pondered again and again as party politics became increasingly polarized. However, no one questions whether or not Acton-Boxborough Regional High School should have a third-party club, and for good reason.
The nature of the Acton-Boxborough system ensures that it would be extremely difficult for a third political party club to gain prominence. First, the process of establishing a new club is hard enough; there are a number of hurdles to overcome before it can be approved. From finding a faculty advisor to assembling student leadership, the journey to creating any new club can take weeks or even months to complete. Additionally, the administration has a minimum membership requirement before the club can be officially approved. This means that there must be enough interest to garner membership before it’s even been established. The odds that a third-party club would appeal enough to potential members are slim, given the supposed low number of politically active students at AB. Considering the lack of a well-known third national political party, a third political party club is unlikely to ever take hold in the Acton-Boxborough political party club system.
However, while a successful third-party club is unlikely, for a time, things looked quite different on the national level. Every election, the conversation regarding a third party always comes up—this time in the form of Donald Trump’s “Patriot Party.” Following his defeat in the 2020 Election, many wondered whether or not he would depart from the Republican party to form his own, especially after seven Republican senators voted to impeach him for his role in the January 6 Capitol Riot. Eventually, Trump dismissed the claims; in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), he made it clear he wasn’t going anywhere. Some remain hopeful, however, that a third party might arise in the national political scene.
Most Americans—up to 62%, according to a recent Gallup Poll—agree that a third political party is needed. In the same poll, only 33% of Americans believed the two-party system adequately represented the American people. Another poll reported that 32% of Americans considered themselves Democrats, 26% Republicans, and a staggering 41% of respondents considered themselves independents. This indicates a significant dissatisfaction with the existing two-party system.
In a school made up of nearly two thousand students, it’s hard to imagine that all of them fit neatly into the two established clubs. This appears to be the case, as the majority of students are not members of either club. While political club membership has fluctuated over the years, political activity in the party club system has remained low. There are several possible reasons for this. First, most students likely lack the time or motivation to participate in the political club system. Students might also refrain from joining a political party club if they do not feel either club adequately represents them, which would reflect national sentiments.
The introduction of a third-party club would encourage political activism among students. As national politics become more polarized every year, Americans are discouraged from engaging in the system. Indeed, voter turnout in American elections is consistently lower than that of most developed democracies. In 2016, the Pew Research Center reported voter turnout in the presidential election to be around 55%, a slight decrease from 57% four years before. In contrast, nations like South Korea and Israel consistently attract up to 78% of eligible voters to the polls. Both South Korea and Israel have more than two parties holding office. In fact, the majority of developed democracies have at least three parties holding office at any given time. A republic relies on the participation of its citizens, yet both the two-party system and the two-party club system actively discourage it. This same trend may be present in our own school with the low political activism: students likely feel that their ideals do not align with either club.
Ultimately, the establishment of a third-party club would open up more possibilities beyond the rigid two-party gridlock we have today, promoting political activity for students in the future. But for now, the dream of a third political party club existing remains just that—only a dream.