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Congrats, Action Party

BY CHRIS STEINKE | APRIL 13, 2011 7:20 AM

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You listened to your e-mails and went to the meetings, picked up petitions and assembled some signatures, made neon shirts and offered bar discounts, created a Facebook event and harassed every one your friends, and, most importantly, gave yourself a brand name. Enjoy the blip on your résumé.

The Action Party took control of the UI Student Government in the election last week, with their presidential and vice-presidential candidates, running unopposed, receiving 100 percent of the vote and capturing 36 of the 39 seats in the UISG Senate. Of the five losing senatorial candidates, only one was branded by the Action Party. No other parties were listed on the ballot.

Like any student election, this was not won by a visionary political party; it was won by a sound marketing strategy — and that’s all well and good. Anyone can find similarities between a presidential campaign to swing voters and an advertising campaign to gain market share, but forming parties in the UISG political landscape serves no purpose.

There should be no political parties in the UISG (Don’t I sound a little bit like that president guy? Who was it, Ben Franklin?). They facilitate the election of unqualified candidates whose motivations are not to represent the students, not to better our community, not even to gain political power, but to be named, just named, part of the student government.

What the result tends to be, and what our result seems to be (just look at some candidate pictures and descriptions), is a small number of motivated and qualified students and a whole slew of résumé vultures piggybacking their way into the Senate of our student government.

Instead of each individual person taking on a role as a leader, brainstorming and advocating ideas that can benefit the community — thus setting her- or himself apart from the rest of the field — many of our senator-elects simply jumped on the Action Party bandwagon, wore the shirt, and said, “Yeah, what he (President-elect Higgins) said.” The result looks to be a student Senate as apathetic and uninitiated as the students who elected them.

In one candidate bio, it starts, “I have been a UISG senator since his freshman year.” Yes. You need to represent me.

But who cares anyway, right?

Well, I do. Kind of. Not really. Er, let’s just say I would prefer a more divisive, interesting election.

Allow me to explain:

In any student-government election at any given level, candidates tend to run on platforms defined by their initiatives. We all remember little Suzy’s speech for sixth-grade president: Longer recesses! Shorter math classes! More snack breaks and fewer spelling bees!

Of course, there was no Rand Paul to challenge Suzy’s Anthony Weiner, no one daring to advocate more academia, less sugar, and no fun — there was just that hairy kid who promised the same things and sucked at making posters.

Not much has changed.

If you’re a student, log on to ISIS, look at the ballot (it’s still there, for some reason), review the Action Party’s platform, and try to disagree with any of its initiatives. Late-night safety, sure; I’m totally against rape. More ways to recycle — yeah, the environment’s pretty cool. Oh, of course I’m all for U-bill expansion. Anything I can do to make my parents pay for my burrito bowl sits well with me.

Unfortunately for us, the most distinct niche of political spectators, there was nobody running against the Action Party. The Inaction Party, perhaps crippled by its ideals, did not run.

In a perfect world, we would have art students pitted against business students and against English majors, all vying for their department’s share of the university’s budget, or underclassmen campaigning for smaller class sizes versus upperclassmen trying to keep the status quo. How about the Party Party versus the Study Group?

Of course, if the 21-ordinance wasn’t enough to motivate students to vote, there is no way a student election ever will. That’s why we should sacrifice voter turnout and disallow student parties to make sure that the most well-intentioned candidates are the ones representing the students.

Until then, I would like to announce my 2012-13 presidential candidacy as a member of the Party Party. That way, I can miss class and get a job after school.


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