Young Progressives vs. Young Conservatives Clubs

Saturday, November 10th, 2018


political clubs
As we say goodbye to the midterm elections, I feel it is important to look smaller than the national stage. Smaller than even the state stage. I am talking, of course, about Chatham High School’s own Young Conservatives and Young Progressives Clubs. While these clubs are similar to others in terms of encouraging discussion and furthering understanding, they stand out as the only two clubs pitted directly against one other. With our nation so divided, I was interested in finding common ground between these two polarizing clubs and the perspective of our nation’s youth on the world of politics.

Both of these clubs, though led by advisors, are largely student-run. When speaking to Mr. Meguerian, the advisor of the Young Progressives Club, he said, “I see my role as a moderator, sort of setting direction perhaps.” He went on to describe that his main purpose in the club was to give the students direction on how to take their ideas and turn them into actions. This sense of autonomy is also seen in the Young Conservatives Club, founded by students only two years ago. One of the co-founders, Collin Goldbach, echoed a similar point saying, “A normal meeting usually starts off with us going through what our topics are for the day, discussing our talking points, and bringing up possible solutions to the problems that we are talking about.”

Both clubs also emphasize open discussion and learning new points of view especially about controversial topics. One of the Young Progressives’ officers, Lily Eisenhardt, said that “Each meeting is usually just an open discussion where we voice our opinions and see what other members think.” When describing why she joined the club, she told me that, “I knew that the welcoming environment was the perfect place to talk with like-minded people and feel as though I was being heard.” Collin Goldbach touched on a similar point, saying, “We believe that to have meaningful discussions in our current society, we need to open our minds to all sides of every topic, and that's the only way to come to a middle ground.”

While these clubs do have different political slants, they agree on a lot of fundamental issues regarding our future. Members of both clubs believe it is imperative that youth engage in politics and think that politicians should try appealing more to younger voters. Collin wished that politicians focused more on environmental and economic issues while Lily spoke about making sure kids realize how much governmental policies directly influence their lives. In this modern age, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s important, especially if it’s not very flashy or engaging at first glance. As students, it is important to remember that regardless of where you stand politically, your voice matters. This rings true whether you are doing something like volunteering with a political campaign like Young Progressives officer Mia Paone or joining one of these clubs to be in an environment with other students wanting to make their voices heard.

One of the most important things Mr. Meguerian told me was how this generation seems to be less engaged and interested in politics. When he was in high school, the 26th amendment had just been passed, allowing American citizens 18 years or older to vote. This was a time marked with controversy, and from the Vietnam War to Watergate, political issues were much more “present.” These two facets led to higher youth engagement in politics, as Americans were much more discontent with how the political system was running. Even in times of less chaos, it is important to have your voice heard to avoid further controversies in the future. Both of these clubs emphasize discussion and turning those discussions into action, and both work to accomplish the goal of making the country a better place for our future.