My personal political experience is brief.
I ran for student council president in sixth grade on a platform of eradicating bullying. I won decisively. Despite my campaign promise, however, bullying seems to have done all right for itself over the years, and my failure to deliver led to my subsequent defeat in seventh grade.
It always bothered me, though, that people expected a candidate not just to talk, but also to deliver.
I stayed out of politics until 12th grade, when I felt a calling from the unwashed masses I determined where burning with an overwhelming desire to shake up student government, to take it back from the football captains and homecoming queens, and to give voice to the studying class. I had well-developed, thoughtful platform full of important ideas and campaign planks. The pretty, popular, smart girl who promised ice cream in the lunchroom whipped me. And people liked her, not just because she was pretty and smart, but because she delivered.
That was it for me and political campaigns. If ice cream trumps a policy wonk, what’s the point?
In college, I shifted to journalism: If I couldn’t beat these guys, at least I could write about them. And for three years, I wrote about one pre-law major after another – with an occasional political-science major thrown in for variety’s sake – elected after running a ponderous campaign promising drastic changes in student government.
Once elected, our student leaders predictably turned their attentions away from campaign promises and toward their next campaign and, even in college, trashing their future political opponents. None of them ever delivered on much of anything they promised during the campaign.
Finally, during my senior year, a couple of totally unknown engineering students decided to run for president and vice president against the usual litany of fast-tracking students groomed for political immortality. Bubba and Gomer campaigned on their nicknames and their total disgust with professional student politicians. They promised not to spend time worrying about campus details (we had paid, professional administration for that); instead, they promised to beef up our campus entertainment budget and not take anything too seriously.
As someone who had been around student politicians for years, I laughed along with the incumbents at the folly of this common-sense campaign: It was too simple. What idiot would vote for common sense over campaign promises?
Bubba and Gomer won in a landslide, and they proceeded to do exactly what they said they would do, which as we all know is no small feat in politics. The world of student government, at least for one year, actually became relevant to other students, regardless of their political leanings.
Bubba and Gomer left office the same way they came in: quietly and effectively. I don’t know what ever happened to them.
We could sure use them today, though.
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