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.

About Gabe Lezra

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides with the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and good will shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon those with great vengeance and with furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know that my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee. Ezekiel 25-17.
  • Ben


    Thanks for the post. All printing was done in-house at Wesleying on recycled paper. The bottle openers were essentially free––Micah’s uncle works for a printing company. The swedish fish were dirt cheap, and you didn’t seem worried about a WSA oligarchy when I gave you one on Foss yesterday.

    I understand your concern, but there is also no scientific evidence that “some candidates can effectively buy their seats.” Stephen Levitt discusses that in “Freakonomics”––candidates who spend a lot of money have no greater chance of success than their opponents. And since we’re not really spending that much, this becomes even more of a non-factor.

    Also, I find it delightfully ironic that Micah is the only presidential/vice-presidential candidate to have attended a public high school. This election is not than a simple class war, and I don’t think that dynamic has much to do with anything in this race.

    I would like to see a Blargus post about a far more important matter related to the race––the relentless negative campaigning certain candidates have been practicing on line, in print, and in person. I consider this far more damaging to the WSA than a few fliers printed on recycled paper with a regular Epson printer.

    all the best,

  • phil

    hear hear

    that’s what a candidate should be like

  • ahoymate

    this is probably the most civil and logical refutation of a blargus post i’ve seen

    ben’s come a long way in a year––he just won my vote. micah too

  • White Mike

    All of the stuff that those dudes hand out is pretty inexpensive. It seems like they’re just trying to get their names out there.

  • firkefan

    ben’s the fucking man. suck it gabe

  • Hmm

    “Also, I find it delightfully ironic that Micah is the only presidential/vice-presidential candidate to have attended a public high school. ”

    Woah, woah. This is problematic. You are implicitly assuming that kids who attend a public school are…what, from a lower socioeconomic background? There are plenty of rich parents who choose to send their kids to public school.

    Kudos on the last paragraph, though.

  • Hmm (again)

    That being said, I voted for you two. It’s just that portion that bothered me.

  • Ben

    Dear Hmm,
    Yeah, sorry. I realized that after you pointed it out–just going to a public/private school doesn’t define your background. I mean, I was on financial aid at my private school. Thanks for pointing out this whole issue is more complex than my initial treatment of it.


  • Gabe Lezra

    A couple things:

    Again, this wasn’t meant to try to indict your candidacy, but rather to point out a systemic problem that seems to me to be really fixable; trying to keep someone from writing douchey ACB posts or Wespeaks, though, seems to me to be impossible. People will use means of communication to be assholes–we can’t fix that. But we can try to fix the problematic issue of campaign finance, so it seems to me that it might be actually worth doing something about.

    Also, the fact is that even if a little outside money is spent, it’s still unfair to the people who are unable or unwilling to do the same thing. It’s not the amount of money that was spent, but the principle of the matter–and while Steven Levitt may have conclusively proven this false, I’m not sure how much it holds true on college campuses.

    But the fact is that the point of this post was that this seems like a problem that we can actually fix. I don’t see how trying to fix a small problem is any more or less important than bemoaning the state of campus dialogue–at least this is fixable.

  • Uhhhh

    A facebook ad? That’s going a little too far. You’re not going to win anyone’s vote that way… those ads are just really, really annoying. And to the point. Those things can’t come cheap…

  • hmmmm

    does every candidate have the same access to Wesleying’s recycled paper and printer? the issue raised is sound…these elections shouldn’t be based on who you know or what access you may have. That may be the way it works nationally, at the state level or even locally, but we have an opportunity to be better and we should take it.

  • Ben

    Uhhhh––it actually costs $5 a day.

    Hmmmm––we meant lab printers or our friends’, not Wesleying’s. I meant to write “wesleyAN’s.” And everyone has access to lab printers or friends, I’d hope.


  • ”12

    “I would like to see a Blargus post about a far more important matter related to the race––the relentless negative campaigning certain candidates have been practicing on line, in print, and in person.”

    I have to say that I am so disappointed that this election has dissolved into what it is. It seems to me that it has been soured by dishonesty and hypocrisy. Gabe, I thought your article was very valid. Ben, I thought your response was fairly level-headed, and I appreciated that (although I too had issues with the comment about public school). It bothers me a great deal, however, that you lamented negative campaigning and then went on to send an email to the whole student body entitled “Why I Said NO to Brad.”

  • ’10


    You and your candidate for prez may not be spending tons of money on your campaign, but you sure are acting self important. That alone is distasteful. You’ve definitely lost my vote since the start of it all.

    In addition, please at least acknowledge to yourself that things like calling in family connections for the bottle openers, using leisure hours to film and edit the hell out of a campaign video, and the print charges for all that color advertising all speak of privilege that you are using to run your campaign a certain way.


    Can we find a WSA member who isn’t too busy sucking up to alumni to introduce legislation about out-of-bounds campaign tactics? I’m all for it.

  • Dweezil

    What a neat article. I had no iknnlig.