The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

Colonelcrats and Waylandtarians

Why Parker’s Student Government should have a party system
Photo credit: The Parker Weekly

“Partisan politics is what the Founders had in mind. It guarantees that the minority opinion is heard, and as a lifelong possessor of minority opinions, I appreciate it,” Jed Bartlet, the greatest, fictional, president, said in “The West Wing.” 

I am not a lifelong possessor of minority opinions, and I don’t consider myself a contrarian, however I love this idea. A party system may add tumult to our student politics, but it will also add representation, thoughtfulness, and intrigue.

Our Student Government is massive and complex. We are overloaded with empty positions and procedural details. This complexity becomes easy to navigate when our assembly is engaged in meaningful debates about an issue that respectfully divides us. This seldom happens. 

After three years as a member of Cabinet, I can see our focus increasingly turning towards internal matters, logistics, and just getting by. The wellbeing of our student body has taken a back seat. No one is compelled to advocate for any change because everyone agrees on most things. By not having enough proposals and issues that cause discourse containing disagreement, our democracy loses its meaning and students disengage.

A party system would break up the horrendous Groupthink in our student government. We reach consensus on issues without seriously considering alternatives. Our plurality is overpowering and uncompromised. We need a manufactured devil’s advocate to poke holes in proposals and ideas and eventually strengthen them. 

If Student Government were to put in place a party system, I think we would end up with much more dedicated students and a greater emphasis on issues rather than internal logistical tedium. 

Parker is meant to be an embryonic democracy, and our Student Government should be the pinnacle of that philosophy’s execution. If Parker wants to give students a dynamic and thoughtful understanding of what it means to be in a democracy, I suggest we include one of the United States democracy’s most fundamental attributes: partisanship. It would allow students to think critically about what beliefs they have and how to collaborate with people holding opposing views.

My idea would be for two assembly members, or two groups of assembly members to draft platforms for two opposing parties. These platforms would cover a variety of issues and ideally center around two opposite themes. These themes could be student control over our school and freedom of faculty, more student obligations and fewer, equity and meritocracy, or something else.

These two platforms could then be adopted by our Student Government and would establish the parties. Students would not have to be registered members of either party and they would be welcome to change their minds, but perhaps we would sometimes have meetings where students could decide what party to be a part of and meet in those groups to discuss ideas and amend their platforms. And maybe the party leaders could be members of the Cabinet who hold each differing opinion.

This is just one idea for how it could work. I could spend a long time dreaming up more possibilities. So don’t get stuck on any piece of that plan you think is bad. Try to understand the bigger goal here.

I wouldn’t want this change to spark more confusion in Student Government. I might even consider keeping it out of the Constitution and just having it be an informal thing. But I would love to see it built in such a way that strengthens Student Government, and I believe that is possible.

People will say to this article, “Harry, that’s dumb, the US government has a party system, and they don’t do anything. Wow, I’m so cultured for saying that.” Even if you feel that way, the US government is a party system, and why not become good at creating progress in a party system?

I want people to be mad about Student Government. I want people to feel like they need to get their voices heard in order to reach some sort of agreement. I want people to feel that their vote matters toward helping our school be better. I want people to see a set of beliefs and be empowered to fight for it.

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About the Contributor
Harry Lowitz, Editor-in-Chief
Harry Lowitz is a senior who is animated to be in his second year as Editor-in-Chief, and fourth year on "The Weekly." Outside of the "The Weekly," he is the DCA in Student Government and a member of the Second City Teen Ensemble. Harry’s favorite journalism movie is “All The President’s Men.” Inspired by the film, he hopes to break into the college counseling office to hide listening devices. Perhaps, after that, he will swing by the Parker Democrats.