Here we are in the midst of the USC elections. We have three presidential candidates who have worked their asses off (as well as numerous other USC candidates who may have done something resembling campaigning). And of course the most important thing is to remember to vote and make your voice heard. Or, you know, fuck that.
I am here to tell you: this USC election, don’t vote.
Unless you really want to.
Now why, you ask, would I be trying to subvert our noble and proud democratic process? The simple answer is that it doesn’t work — at least, not the way we want it to. I won’t bore you with a lecture on democracy at large; I’ll just focus on our problems here at UWO.
Due to my internship with the Gazette, I went to nearly every presidential debate and interview. I went to so many of those USC-sponsored sniping matches that I could recite the candidates’ platforms in my sleep. I read their platforms. I watched their videos. I met with them personally. I could probably also name you every single person who attended one of these things. But that’s not because I have a great memory.
It’s because when you exclude campaign teams, sophs, USC members and campus media, I saw something like 200 different people at these events. 250 tops. I’ll assume that about 10 times that amount read the campaign platforms online. That’s about 2500-3000 people.
Last year, 7,679 people voted. The year before that 9,470. Does anybody else see the problem here?
What are these 5000 other people basing their vote on? Is it the catchiest campaign song? The prettiest sign? The prettiest candidate? Is it just random guessing or alphabetical order?
Paul Craig recently blasted Andrew Forgione because he didn’t include any context in his campaign video. Neither did David Basu Roy. To his credit, Omid Salari actually did include campaign material in his tribute to bad 80’s rap. But overall the message seems to be that real campaigning should be about getting your platform out to the voters, not the fancy gimmickry it was this campaign season.
Well the problem is that the USC has gotten into a vicious cycle where it (rightly) assumes that the average student doesn’t care about platform points or campaign promises, so they create an image, or a catchy song that sticks with the voter. Then they tell them to get out and vote, and the students vote for whoever’s campaign song is stuck in their heads at the time.
So here’s a thought for you future presidential candidates: stop fucking telling people to vote so much.
Seriously, why is it so important? Why are we trying to force a voice onto people who have nothing to say? Why are we drowning out the vocal, caring minority by disrupting students’ busy lives with stuff that they clearly couldn’t care less about? Why are candidates burying their (not so) well-thought-out platform points with idiotic Duck Sauce songs to appeal to the very people who obviously don’t care?
It’s the world’s most idiotic lose-lose situation.
Students, believe me when I say that I am not trying to be condescending. We’re busy people. This is midterm time. Most of us don’t care about the elections. It’s not (completely) a question of student apathy — some of us are just too busy to attend debates and read through platforms.
You don’t have to feel guilty for not being involved. But on the other hand, if your vote is based on a catchy campaign song, you’re not helping anyone. You’re not making your voice heard. You’re really just hurting the entire electoral process. No one is forcing you to care. Yes, ideally everyone should give a shit about the Spoke and O-Week and our university, but not everyone does. These aren’t national issues that the candidates are dealing with; it’s university stuff. It should only matter to you if you want it to. And if it doesn’t, leave the voting to the people who care. Maybe then we wouldn’t have to see Duck Sauce make an appearance in our democratic process, and the most qualified candidate could get elected. Everybody wins. Except the candidates who lose.
P.S. I am currently planning on basing my vote for Social Science President on an alpha-numerical cipher of the candidates’ names, because they’ve given me no better option. With not a single campaign platform in sight outside of the presidential race, how else am I to do it?