Op-Ed: Party collapse: From national to collegent

Writer: Pasha Stone, Mechanical Engineer

Contact: pston001@ucr.edu 

In George Washington’s farewell address at The White House, he warned attendees of a dangerous trend growing in our political system, one that would put the pursuit of power in front of the good of people. That trend stuck despite his warnings, and evolved to become the political parties that we see in our nation today.

The split of liberal and conservative values has divided our nation for centuries, and now we have two likely presidential nominees who have the lowest favorable ratings in history, yet we refuse to elect a third party candidate. Parties are somewhat natural in politics, seeing as almost every country has them, and the drawing of a line in the progressive and traditional values spectrum isn’t a crime, as much as it’s natural organization. But I ask: Why bring this system to the student elections at a university?

Political parties make no sense for a university, there is no divided liberal and conservative agenda, and the parties at our school each year simply chose to adopt a platform, which basically consists of cherry-picked issues to try and best grab the voters’ attention. The issues they address are vague and complicated, like high tuition, and the campaigning in the parties make it appear that these students are a coalition seeking power and, dare I say, a resume booster, rather than even having to pretend to care for the students.

While independent campaigning is a growing trend for UCR politics, they mainly aren’t elected because they don’t have the resources to campaign to over 20,000 undergraduate students, while the political parties enable individuals to have a bigger campaign presence through the party. That’s the part of parties that make sense, you need power in numbers to get your message heard. Here’s why it’s a bad thing: power corrupts.

By bringing in political parties to our campus, power-hungry candidates have tainted our election process to one that rivals third world dictator regimes. In the past year, I’ve seen little or no headlines about the work ASUCR has done to help the students, but rather newspaper after newspaper filled with tales of corrupt voting practices and tainted election results.

Last year, one political party dominated the polls overwhelmingly due to illegal laptopping that the judicial counsel — almost completely occupied by that very same party — at the last minute voted to legalize. This year, with the highly controversial, and newly legal, laptopping rules, that very same party — which did have to dissolve and reorganize under a different name, as they have in previous years to continue to slip under the radar — has once again weaseled their way to victory. This year the judicial committee threatened to hold a re-election due to illegitimate results due to laptopping, but that died soon along with any student’s legitimate hope that justice will ever be a part of our electoral system.

I am ashamed to go to a school where our political systems mirrors that of the worst politicians, sacrificing any morals or ethics to get elected. No one really pays attention to the elections, so of course if you shove a laptop in my face, and pressure me, I’ll likely vote for you.

Congrats to whoever it may be — [OUR]voice, [YOUR]voice, orange party, blue party — you’ve “won.” All those independent candidates drafted pages of passionate letters to the students telling them why they should be elected and how they’re going to help the school … but they just weren’t corrupt enough. You’ve managed to make elections not about the students, but about yourselves. The very same high tuition you claim to fight is filled with funding going directly to you, and the election(s) we have every year to determine who can be the most pushy and unethical party. So take our money, take my vote, take your elected title, but you’ll never have my respect, and frankly I am well aware that none of you even care.

So when everyone goes out and votes, just know that a vote for a party is not a vote for a UCR — but really nothing more than a vote for a party. That (wo)man who represents your college in congress, (s)he didn’t get elected because she worked the hardest, or because (s)he had the best message, but simply because (s)he bet on the right party to join.

Welcome to politics kids. What would college be if it didn’t prepare you for the real world?

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