Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Election: Yar, She Blows!

By: Michael Akerman

Here at NCSU, the mockery of government and democracy that we call the student body elections has ended. Well, almost, but more on that momentarily. Like most elections, this marks the end of a season of annoying signs, stupid publicity stunts, offices no one cares about (what the heck is a Register of Deeds anyway?), and one major candidate that simply stands above the rest. I'm here to talk about that candidate.

This election season marked the appearance of quite the character in the race for student body president. Calling himself simply "the Pirate Captain" (a legitimate stage name, considering student elections require only a valid ID number, not a name), a candidate seems to have stolen the hearts and minds of the student body with a flamboyant and excruciatingly thorough portrayal of, of course, a Pirate Captain. From the driftwood signs to the commercial made with full crew compliment, the Captain seemed to follow a plan for a publicity stunt gone awry, which, it turns out, is just what was needed.

You see, the Captain has won the de facto election. Much to the chagrin of the other candidates, the Captain garnered full 40% of the popular vote, which, though not enough to avoid a runoff election (we have no electoral college here), puts him squarely in the lead, 20% ahead of the next candidate.

The other candidates are livid, though they are covering it adequately. They claim that the Captain is simply not qualified, makes a mockery of the system, and doesn't know what he is getting himself into. I plan on addressing these points. It's worth noting, first, that they applaud him for getting out the vote (a record 27% turnout. Um... whoo).

Oh, but the claims that he is unqualified: for a number of reasons ridiculous, not the least of which is the fact that student government is a powerless mockery of government which has the sole duties of strutting about and stealing football tickets (this accusation based on a real event). Indeed, the Pirate Captain has shown himself to be fully devoted to the cause, as is evidenced by his near flawless character portrayal. He has gone to the trouble of creating a rather good website, signs, and a pirate shanty in the brickyard. Besides, he has a solid platform (his "plank"), and has shown himself as the people's candidate, promising improved game transportation and seating, and open government meetings. He promises, frankly, a government with transparency. To say he doesn't understand governing is foolish (besides, he's a Captain. He must be a good leader).

Perhaps more weighty, and weighted, is the accusation that he is making a mockery of the system. Evidently, this is not the case. Humor does not mean irreverence, necessarily, any more than a suit makes a businessman. The Pirate Captain, through his evident devotion to his candidacy, has simply used humor as a campaign tool. Besides, the system is already a mockery, for reasons stated earlier.

The final accusation, leveled as a cutlass against a throat, is that the Pirate Captain is not prepared for office. Indeed, this follows from the claim of irreverence, but is disproved by the same reasoning. If the Captain could organize a "crew" very effectively, campaign soundly, craft a professional and serious platform, and, ultimately, win the election, all indications turn that accusation about. Indeed, out of candidates who were unable to mount the least opposition to the Pirate Captain, he is the most qualified.

Surely, the campaign was an extremely crafty device. This seeming joke was manipulated expertly into a vessel for the revelation of the Captain's natural talents. It was a fresh breeze through student government's stagnant swamp, shaking the traditional candidates out of their lethargy. Ultimately, it was a perfect, though perhaps accidental, campaign.

~By my hand,
Michael Akerman