So I’ve recently been bombarded by a slew of WSA campaign propaganda: from various pamphlets stuffed under my door, to free food on the Hill, to huge, glossy color posters all over campus, it’s pretty hard to escape the constant pressure that some WSA candidates are exerting. This constant pressure, a political tactic often employed by candidates with a significant monetary advantage, has become more than a little nuisance. Though it is probably legal under WSA by-laws to use outside funding to help your own campaign–it shows dedication, right?–it seems to me to be extremely unfair, to the point of being immoral.
I’m not trying to call out any particular candidates–I know Micah and Ben, and they’re both great guys, who I’m sure would do great jobs. Rather, I’m writing this WeSpeak/Post as a call to the WSA–or whoever the hell is in charge of this–to consider fixing this extremely unfair system. I’m not running myself, and have little stake in the elections; at the same time, though, it seems a bit out of hand that wealthier candidates have such a significant advantage over candidates who are either unable or unwilling to spend their own money on their campaigns. Again, I want to pause to say that this is not an indictment of any candidates in particular, but the system more generally.
Campaign finance reform has been a hot topic for a while, and even though the inherent inequality in the system (nationally) has helped my candidates in the past (Obama, anyone?), I’m starting to wonder whether we can trust outcomes of general elections where the result is so obviously biased against people with less money. This is particularly evident in smaller elections like for the WSA, but I think it stands nationally–again, though, this piece is a call to reform the WSA campaign finance system, not necessarily the national one.
Whatever you say about the WSA, it’s important to remember that some of our fellow students have put a lot of time, energy and love into the organization: whether the organization is effective or not, I think, is beside the point–we need an equitable system that supports a fair, democratic election rather than some sort of pseudo-oligarchy, even if the Association is rather useless. The mere fact that some candidates can effectively buy their seats–while reflective, arguably, of the nation as a whole–is not a morally legitimate position for our University to endorse, no matter the student organization (unless we’re talking about WesOligarchs, in which case that’d be OK).
So here’s a proposition: candidates can have free reign to print whatever they want, whenever they want, and as much as they want from University printers (particularly the WSA printer), but any other campaign propaganda–be it free food, bottle openers, or anything else–should be considered out of bounds. In this case, candidates caught using unfair campaign practices would be removed from the ballot, unless they could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that their activities were not unfair–that is, that any candidate, from any socio-economic background, could have done the same thing.
Again, I want to remind you that this is not meant to indict specific candidates, but rather to try to excise the WSA’s oligarchical tumor–we may live in a country where candidates can essentially buy their seats, but that doesn’t mean that we have to go to school and accept this same oligarchical political culture. It’s not fair; it’s not useful for us as a University; and it’s a blemish on the WSA’s reputation–whatever you may feel that is.