Well, the ASSU Elections and Special Fees Voting season is a perfect example of these tendencies. Layered bathroom stall flyers featuring contrived faces and “Please Forward Widely” tags in campaign emails abound. Though we have a huge number of candidates running for Senate seats, only 15 will generate enough name recognition win. And only a couple of executive slates will be well-known, and only one will emerge victorious.
There’s one common factor here — name recognition. That’s all it takes to win. Even with such a small campus population, Name Recognition is King still reigns true at Stanford. It is as true at Stanford as it is in your home state’s elections or in your national elections. People pull levers for the familiar.
Ask a friend why he’s voting for this candidate or that one. Can he tell you why? Or can he just tell you that the candidate had a cool stuffed animal in his flyer or some neat Academy Award Winning Film title to channel in a pun or maybe some adorable LOL cat endorsing him. Those are what student voters take with them into the virtual voting booth.
The entire election season is crafted to generate name recognition for candidates and initiatives. Ahead of making a run for office, the most politically savvy candidates figure out how to tailor their platforms so that they say as little as possible and appeal to as many special-interest endorsement committees as possible. Those endorsements, including this publication’s, mean absolutely nothing. Those endorsing committees do not hold their endorsees accountable for their campaign promises, as vague as they may be.
The endorsements do allow voters to cast those ballots without thinking. It allows voters the excuse to follow blindly. It gives them a semblance that they are adhering to their own views. The endorsements mean that the candidates managed to convince a few students that they adhered to the group’s (or the group’s leader’s) views and political interests. Essentially, the endorsement committees say We know you all agree with anything and everything we believe, so trust us when we tell you that we believe in these candidates. Just do it. Just vote.
As a human being, you must reason. You must be the person who chooses to vote or chooses to not vote. Shouldn’t you be the one to evaluate the candidates? Is a streamlined process that has committees pushing through their pet candidates the best process? Yes, it may save you the burden of thinking, but as human, isn’t thinking what you are meant to do?
I will not endorse any candidate or Special Fees petition. But I will endorse the human mind. Just use it.