Which Associated Students party is best to represent the needs of a liberal, coastal college of the University of California system? Is it Campus United, which promises to fight for a diverse campus and ease the economic burdens that college imposes? Or is it the Isla Vista Party which promises to represent diverse, grassroots activism and to fight against rising costs in college?
Either way, students can rest assured that both parties prioritize representing underrepresented voices and fighting tuition increases.
The only problem with the parties’ similar priorities is that neither party presents enough of a clear-cut ideological message difference from the other to bring a sense of urgency to elections. If both parties campaign on similar platforms, what does it matter that either one party is victorious? Either one will attempt to implement their very similar goals. While it would not be productive to have the right-left split that poisons much of American politics today, it would at least provide different approaches to issues, like allocating available funds.
Of course, it makes sense for a political party to want to go the middle route and to cast their net as wide as possible. The easiest way for mainstream campaigns to do that is to target issues of security and stability towards their constituents, with special attention paid to making it more affordable to be alive. That’s why, within both the Republican and Democratic parties, there has been an inward turn with varying degrees of populism.
However, neither of the A.S. political parties at UCSB are split along the same ideological lines as the national parties. In the case of a fairly liberal college in California, it only makes sense that a lot of the policies the campus’ parties would sponsor would fall within the general liberal framework. But, if both are liberal parties, why not have a single-party campus?
When asked why she chose to run as an Independent during her bid for the presidency in last year’s AS Election, fourth year Asian American Studies and Environmental Studies major Navpreet Khabra replied that she “ran as an Independent because I wanted to show the student body that you do not need to associate yourself with a major party to run for a position.”
Khabra’s decision to take a stand against the two parties reinforces the idea that they are unnecessary. While she was quick to reiterate that she means no hostility to either party, stating that she has worked with and counts friends amongst both, her decision to run as an independent calls into question why exactly we have these two parties.
Could having more alternatives to either of the two parties compel them to redefine their positions? Possibly, but it is not certain what form any alternative party would take. If it were to be ideologically different from what is currently available, then it would be of more conservative stock. Another party attempting to emulate the same liberal values of C.U. and the IVP would just be extraneous.
Perhaps there is some overreaching here. To be fair to both parties, while both hew to generally liberal positions, there are some differences in how they want to use their power.
Campus United seems more geared towards focusing on the campus, whereas the Isla Vista Party is focused more on building ties within the Isla Vista community itself. Still, to split hairs over party ties seems counterproductive when they could instead concentrate on fixing the issues the parties agree plague I.V. together.