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Why I would have voted for a potato

BY GUEST OPINION | APRIL 06, 2012 6:30 AM

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KRUI's candidate for the University of Iowa Student Government president, Potato, ostensibly seems to be a publicity stunt (if you aren't aware, KRUI endorsed a potato for UISG president—it's on Facebook and Tumblr; look it up).

While this simplistic explanation certainly makes the most sense, it overlooks a few important truths.

First of all, as though KRUI needs the publicity. As the most popular radio station on campus, broadcasting 24/7 through the ether and online and providing a varied and eclectic milieu of music, news, sports, opinion, sound art, a citadel of humanity and freedom in a bleak radio landscape filled with commercials, garbage pop, and sadness, KRUI is the first choice of every student and resident alike.

Surely you've heard it — or at least you've heard of it. An unstoppable dynamo such as KRUI doesn't do things for the sake of publicity — KRUI does things for the sake of art.

Also, it's not as though electing an inanimate object to a position of power is as preposterous as it sounds. There is precedence for non-humans; ancient Egyptians worshipped kitties; Caligula made his horse the Consul of Rome; Kentucky is currently represented in Congress by a large, talking turtle.

In elementary school, I learned about Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden, a car engine dressed in a suit and top hat. Even America has called upon non-humans to lead, electing the large block of ice popularly named Calvin Coolidge to the presidency in 1924. Indeed, this year's Republican primary season has seen the race come down to a toad, a mannequin, and a life-sized Howdy Doody doll.

Perhaps you are still unconvinced. Perhaps you are of a mind that the amount of attention a potato running for UISG is receiving is part of a broader, alarming trend toward apathy by our students.

Yes, UISG elections seldom garner more than 3,000 votes, but while a tepid minority of students think one or two (or seven) candidates should be president, an overwhelming majority, roughly 21,000 students, think that nobody should be president. If we're selecting someone for the august purpose of being ignored in UISG, might as well send a well-spoken potato.

But even this doesn't get all the way into the meat and potatoes of the UISG stew. Perhaps low voter turnout isn't simply a matter of a lazy and vapid student body, nor of mass nihilism about the future of higher education in the face of aggressive cuts to funding; rather, a subtle statement of intent, a rejection of an ineffective method of student representation, an implicit understanding that a bunch of kids in suits pretending to be university mauchers isn't going to solve our problems —that we need a student body in solidarity, esteeming no one major, student organization, or group above the others, united under a symbolic figurehead. Why not a potato?

However, the most likely explanation is that I (Roman numeral one) Party and # (Tic-Tac-Toe) Party are distinctly uninspiring names for political groups. Either way, I would rather have voted for a potato.

Jesse Marks
UI senior


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