Nearly 50% of CVHS students identify with independents or third-parties


Upstream News

Nearly half of CVHS students identify as independents or with third-parties, reflecting similar national trends among Gen Z voters.

Since Millennials entered the electorate in the 2004 election, young voters have been expected to skew – or even align unfailingly– blue. However, Gen Z voters have begun to shift away from the older, more establishment wing of the Democrat party. They have started to move towards the progressive wing or, in recent years, even shift away from the party entirely and instead take on a non-partisan or third-party alignment. 

To many young voters, the prospects offered by both Democrats and Republicans don’t seem appealing: in the wake of a politically charged pandemic and a monumental election in 2020, just 7% of Americans 18 to 29 see the US as a completely healthy democracy. 

CVHS students reflect these political trends: in a survey of over 112 CVHS students, grades 10-12, nearly 50% of students affiliated with either an independent party or none at all. 

17-year old CVHS senior Thomas Dowe is concerned for America’s economic future.

“[Democratic fiscal policy] is going to affect our generation more than any of the past generations. Inflation is going to fall back on us more than anyone. All of the economic repercussions of the past few decades are going to hit us. [Republican fiscal policy] is way too conservative and generally on stuff that we don’t stand to benefit from, like wars in the Middle East,” said Dowe. 

Like the 50% of Millennials who self-identify as independents, Dowe’s displeasure with both parties has entirely led him away from party alignment. Dowe lists his most significant concerns as foreign policy, economic vitality, national unity, and infrastructure when discussing the issues that most strongly drive his political leanings. 

“I think Biden’s doing a pretty good job of addressing foreign policy. The infrastructure bill didn’t pass the Senate a few weeks ago, and so it’s not being addressed, and as for education, it’s not really being addressed whatsoever,” said Dowe.

Another CVHS senior, 17-year old Claire Morton, criticizes America’s “[failing] two-party system,” citing a 2014 Princeton study that argued that public opinion had a statistically insignificant impact on enacted policy. 

“[Republicans] do not [represent my interests] even a little bit. [Democrats] don’t really [represent my interests], but they’re slightly better in terms of not being complete grifters, and at least saying that they’ll do nice things than the Republican Party,” said Morton. 

Other young, politically engaged activists have echoed this sentiment. One such incident was when (at the time) presidential candidate Joe Biden when asked by an 18-year old climate activist Lily Levin about taking money from Super PACs, answered, “look at my record, child.” President Biden – Dowe and Morton both share similar concerns. This issue has continued to be under-addressed. 

“To some extent, interest groups should represent the people, but now they represent big companies and whoever has the money… Money should not move a vote as much as it does in America, but it does. So I don’t think that it’s a healthy democracy anymore,” said Dowe. 

Morton offers the idea of municipalism, which is a shift in focus from federal to municipal elections, as a potential solution to this issue. In municipal and primary elections, third party or progressive candidates have a higher chance of success, and Super PACs tend to have less control than national elections.

“Voting nationally, I would vote Democrat. But locally, I would vote for the most progressive candidate, and in the primaries, I would vote for the most progressive candidate,” said Morton.

Texas statewide primaries occur on March 1, 2022, and are an opportunity for registered voters to make their voices heard. Early voting has already started. Voting locations and other information can be found here.