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Purple Party attempts to unite younger voters

By Jacob Edelman

Section: Features

February 5, 2016

Who expects to run for president in the future? Deval Patrick? Elizabeth Warren? They’re mum on the subject; however Shaquan McDowell ’18 is forthright in stating that his hope is to run for president one day.

McDowell is the co-founder and president of the Purple Party, which is an independent youth organization that promotes unity among younger generations. From there, they plan to use their youth-oriented platform to form a united front to fix problems they see in government.

McDowell comes from Atlanta, GA; however before he lived there, he was from South Carolina. Majoring in Politics and History, McDowell chose to attend Brandeis due to a strong sense of its being socially active and socially aware. Originally, McDowell wanted to go into acting; however after his mother pointed out to him his skills at speech and debating, she suggested he pursue legal studies. One thing led to another, and his interest in American history, public speaking and the law culminated in his focus on politics, political thought and political theory.

Formed in 2011, the Purple Party’s ideology is intended to be shaped more by its members than by its leaders. “I can have a particular view, my vice president can have a different view, and our members having different views from those. The party is spearheaded by different members, not by one. It emphasizes participation,” McDowell explained.

When asked whether the Purple Party is a populist organization, McDowell disagreed. He explained that those who have political interests do not always need to have full understanding of the structure of government. He elaborated, “Using what [the masses] are saying combined with the knowledge that we have forms an ideological platform.”

McDowell sees the party as somewhat of a unity device for the current generation of youth. “As the youth grows, we no longer will be an organization that pertains to the youth. As the youth grows, they’ll acquire positions of leadership … When they go into their positions of leadership, they’ll already have the mindset of unity.”

“We want to acquire as much membership of the youth of both [major party] political bases,” McDowell commented. “We want to allow them to go and reestablish how our government works once they’ve been brought together by this unified party. They’ll be operating on this common platform and common basis. They’re not operating on exclusively liberal or conservative properties. By using common ground, they’ll be able to navigate the system more effectively.”

McDowell indicates that a specific failing of the current system, indicating the inability for congress to come together to pass effective legislation. “A prime example is gun legislation,” McDowell pointed out. “There’s not a big disagreement that gun legislation is a necessity. The problem is that people are so fixated on enforcing their party’s viewpoint in Congress that they won’t come together and pass something clear and effective.”

After his undergraduate years, McDowell plans to attend law school and potentially teach. “As I grow and involve myself more, it’s important to understand the generations that are up and coming so we can better serve all of America instead of just one generational demographic. Someday, my goal is to run for president. That’s the end point, but it’s a long way from now,” he explained.

When asked about who he supports for the 2016 presidential election, however, McDowell is very up-front in his support for Secretary Clinton. “I believe that we need someone like her who can navigate the system’s structure as it is now. I believe not only that, but that she has experience that goes beyond just the legislature … Thinking in terms of how the executive is supposed to be, I’m going for Clinton.”

For individuals with interest in getting involved with the Purple Party, the group will be having its first meeting following February break, so they should stay tuned for meetings. McDowell recommends them to message him on Facebook or message the Purple Party’s Facebook account.

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