At the highest levels of politics, partisanship and power struggles drive decisions and action. But at the local and college levels, collaboration is more important than power, and ideas trump ideology.
Scholastic witnessed this in February, as we evaluated the candidates for student body president and vice president. Both sets of candidates — all friends from their sophomore year, when they worked together in student government — have admirably focused their platforms on achieving results and serving their fellow students.
Local politics have an inherent and wonderful transparency. There are typically few favors, no allegiance to voting blocs nor secret earmarking. The effects of policies are observable; they’re present in our lives, every day.
There is a political theory which categorizes politicians as “home style” (those who engage in non-policy activities and emphasize personal characteristics) and “hill style” (those who highlight the ways their connections in Washington can help local constituents). Patrick Tucker, a Ph.D candidate at Washington University in St. Louis, has researched these terms, and found that the most popular politicians are those who leverage “home style,” and have the most intimacy and contact with the people they represent.
We, the student ‘constituents,’ have the fortune of voting for archetypal home style candidates. These candidates are our classmates, our neighbors and our friends, and we have the power to engage with them directly, on demand.
You’ll never again have this much unparalleled access to your official representatives. Take advantage. Ask the candidates to coffee. (Both teams have sign-ups on their websites.) Ask them what student government does. Ask them how they can better serve you, and how you can help to serve the community.
The dynamics of this year’s student government campaign stand in refreshing contrast to this year’s bitter and divisive presidential election cycle. Our young, ambitious and well-intentioned peers hope to do good for our university. So read this issue, inform yourself and cast your vote.
Today’s charged political climate demands strong leaders at every level, and student government is no exception.