Club Spotlight: John Preston ('19) Explains the Third Party Club

So, there are been many people on the hill that are curious to figure out what the Third Party Club really is. Could you define it for them?

It’s a very interesting club. We are very unique to the MBA campus because not only are we talking about very sensitive political topics but we tend to also not talk completely about political topics. It is this weird balance between completely on topic and completely off topic.

Could you describe how that relationship affects a weekly meeting of the Third Party Club?

It varies from being very organized to being completely unorganized actually. I am the president and we actually had elections a couple weeks ago. I elected some people but, as is common with any club, no one takes their job seriously. So, I am commonly the only one that is out there getting food for the meetings along with other things. And, sometimes, meetings can go into a sort of anarchistic state. These meetings tend to have no order at all but provide great discussion.

So I’ve heard that at your meetings you have different topics that you discuss every week or you will have someone present on a different political belief or mindset, could you tell me about your reasoning for wanting to provide a space for that as well as how you feel about how different ideas are represented on campus?

Well, as a wise man once said, “sharing is caring.” So, whatever information you have on something that you know about, you know, you need to share it--you need to spread you ideals. So, yes, in fact, I often get people to come and speak for us. They are not necessarily big name speakers but they certainly do the job. They create a slideshow or something to explain a political system or activist group from across the world. Sometimes the topics are a little too touchy and I have to closet them for another week.

Could you give me an example of one of those topics?

Someone was assigned Black Lives Matter as a political movement to research and I had to contain that discussion as it could have gone to a very dark, heated discussion very quickly. However, we maintain that whatever you want to share is fair game.

You are now a junior, but started the club last year as a sophomore. What made you want to start this club?

Well I started this club, number one, in response to a lack of meetings from the Young Republicans and Young Democrats clubs. Those clubs met very infrequently. The meetings were almost nonexistent. Second, there was not a whole lot of love, especially when I created this club, which was actually the day after the 2016 presidential election, for the third parties. I saw Gary Johnson and Jill Stein being hated on and really getting slam-dunked in the polls. I was like, “we need to make people aware of these candidates.” I thought that maybe we could give these other guys a chance. The first message I actually sent out about the club was an email attached to the Young Democrat’s previous email and that is how we got our first members.

Just last week we saw the effect of third parties in other parts of the world, in particular, Germany. There, for the first time in the past forty years, a far right party was elected to the German Parliament or Reichstag. This shows, possibly, the positives and negatives of having a greater platform for a Third Party in a country. How do you, as a representative of the Third Party Club, feel about that issue?

Well, ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Germany has been in a period of flux. Given the vast amount of political parties in Germany, especially in comparison to the United States, it does make sense that an outside party may rise to be in the cream of the crop in terms of parties in a country. People get tired of old politics. If they haven’t been working in the past then how can they function now? The AfD though, because they are rather far to the right, and there was a little something that took hold of Germany earlier on that began with an “f” and ended with a “-ascism,” that was seen as far right, it shows an eventual movement back to the old systems. This is a little bit strange. However, it must be seen that, with the large influx of refugees to Germany, many citizens want a group that will see stances towards immigration like Trump’s and try to emulate it in some way.

So, do you think that it would be beneficial to have a stronger third party in the United States?

I do. I think that if there is a strong third option for people, the Democratic and Republican Parties will have to change their ideas to contend with another competitor. The force and money behind the two massive parties within the US is so large that it becomes hard to see the people and actual ideas behind them. There are people who have good ideas but do not have the backing of lobbyists and other organizations to make them heard.

And you think that a third party would solve this problem?

Totally. Yeah. Even if a third party is small time, of course they are going to have people gunning for them, but they will still be able to get those ideas out there to be heard in the first place.

My last question for you relates back to MBA. You said that you started this club as a sophomore, where do you want to see it when you graduate next year, what role do you see the club as playing on the hill?

I’ve asked myself this question a lot. At first, I saw no future in the club after the results of the election had died down. But, I have seen it grow. I finally got a table at the activity fair this year and I really started to branch out. I ended up with 60 people signing up. That is a lot of people. A lot of emails. A lot of interest. The future I see lies with the current sophomore class. If I can get them to continue the club then I think it can be established in the high school. I want there to be a space where your political ideas can be shared with everyone and that was my goal when I first set out to create the club.