OPINION: It is time to look past party politics in wake of grad student walkouts

USC students protested the GOP tax plan

On Wednesday Nov. 29, graduate USC students participated in a nation-wide walkout to protest the Republican Party’s recent tax plan. The plan would classify graduate school tuition waivers, given to students by the universities help cover tuition costs, as taxable income.

The rallies, which were planned at 54 campuses across 32 states, represent a reaction not only to poor tax policy, but also to the disconnect between the needs of the nation and the staged agenda of party politics.

The Republican tax plan is more of a show for political action than a sensible solution. In the looming shadow of the Obamacare repeal and replace debacle, there has been a push in the GOP to get something passed in efforts to show political progress. The GOP’s efforts constitute political theater and not much else.

Equally concerning to students should be recent ambivalence to the US deficit by both parties, including the GOP to whom, as the LA Times suggests, “’Deficit” [is] No longer a dirty word.” A deficit which will soon be saddled to the Millennial generation.

On Nov. 28, USC’s Libertarian student organization, Trojans for Liberty, with whom I serve as president, invited US Senate candidates Austin Petersen (MO) and Pat Harris (CA) to discuss political activism outside of the traditional confines of the Democratic and Republican parties. While Petersen is technically running as a Republican and Harris as a Democrat, they both expressed feelings of uneasiness being associated with their respective party duopoly.

Petersen argued, “I am an American…lets talk together as human beings. I am sick and tired of party politics. George Washington advocated against the party system. It should not be about parties it should be about ideas.”

Harris continued, “We cannot be taking party labels forcing everyone to adhere…[to] whatever the party believes whatever the party says…we absolutely have to trust the American people…There is no such thing as [party] purity, we are each individuals and that is how it should stay.”

Political tribalism and identity politics shows the weaknesses built into party politics. The top-down approaches of the Republican and Democratic establishments are not here to help the common good – they are in existence to perpetuate only their own influence.

The individual and unrestricted political dialogue will have more influence and power to make real policy impact in the long run. The future of American policy will ultimately be up to individuals, not parties.

University of Southern California GOP tax plan graduate student protests walkout