June 7, 2010

Q: What People Should Really Learn From Student Government Elections?

A: How to learn when a politician is saying a whole lot of nothing.

My class's election for sophomore year officers could be a case study. Most of the speeches were uninteresting; but gave a good overview of what the person's goals and qualifications were. Then the speeches got to the presidential candidates and the only guy running for an office (significant or not?) got up. There was lots of cheering (he was a popular guy). But when he opened his mouth he had nothing to say. The summary of his speech is as follows:

"The other school thinks we suck! I don't think we do! We should show them we're not! I had fun doing this job in eighth grade! The other school thinks we suck!"

See? A whole lotta nothin'. There is a term for this sort of persuasion: pathos. This guy was trying to play off emotions and his popularity. Student government elections being as they are (popularity over competence), that was the guy who won.

Here's an idea: maybe if the SG elections actually matched what people learned in their government classes about how real elections work (and if the SG actually meant anything), people would be more invested in voting throughout their lives.

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