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More time needed on the campaign trail

Tae Andrews | Monday, February 11, 2008

As a passionate student and fan of the political process, I find our campaign coverage woefully lacking here at Notre Dame.

As a microcosm of the current primary elections igniting fervor across the nation, we currently have a scintillating election heating up our frigid campus. However, other than a paltry majority/dissenting pair of endorsements and a student government insider in last Friday’s edition of the Observer, campaign coverage has been non-existent. We need to know more about our candidates. If we are not informed to the fullest extent, how else can we vote as citizens in this mock democracy?

For this, I blame myself. Even though we typically devote ourselves to entertainment and student life here in the Scene section, last week I felt so impassioned by the Phoenix Suns’ acquisition of Shaq that I felt compelled to write on the issue, when I should have been writing about the issues in today’s student government election. For this, I apologize.

I’m sorry, Notre Dame.

And yet, I am not the only culprit in this glaring lack of campaign coverage. We need NDTV to step up and provide comprehensive campaign coverage of the results of today’s election, up to the minute and as they come in. Let’s get a pretty face like Anderson Cooper onscreen and have fancy graphics that show which candidates win which dorms.

We also need demographic breakdowns: pie charts, bar graphs, blue and red graphics – we need the works. That way, we can isolate and identify regional voting patterns by quad. North quad vs. South quad, Mod quad vs. God quad. Carroll Hall vs. West Bumble.

I want breaking news reports like “BREAKING NEWS – This just in: with nine percent of the vote in, it appears that (so and so) have just won Farley Hall.”

We also need to expand our debating beyond the traditional one-and-done structure. We need candidates to answer the pressing questions of our time here at Notre Dame. We need candidates to answer polarizing political questions with the honest-to-God truth, not the traditional double-speak favored by politicians.

We need to press the following questions, which reveal the essential truth about the natures of our candidates. Keystone or Natty? Fever or Finnigan’s? Blue or gold? Even seemingly innocuous questions such as, “Do you consider yourself pro-Bun Run or anti-Bun Run?” have grave implications, particularly if you’re trying to steal support from Zahm Hall and its traditional two-freshmen ticket.

I want exit polls. Heck, I want entry polls. For that matter, I want tetherball poles. I want enough polls to determine within a hair’s breadth (and the margin of error) the likelihood of each candidate’s taking the cake. Let’s poll it up.

Who says we have to obey the dogmatic traditional structure of student government elections? Individual dorms should have the prerogative to decide whether they want to have the privacy of the voting booth or if they want to vote with their feet and caucus it out. This is America, after all. This is about freedom.

Why stop there? Self-important scribes that we are, we Observerites believe that our endorsement is all-important. If we had a longer campaign trail and a lengthier process, we could allow other groups on campus to endorse their candidates as well.

Just as Barack Obama gained the support of the Culinary Workers Union in Nevada, the Student Union Board and the various other unions and teamsters around campus should have time to have their say. I want to see candidates smiling and shaking hands with students, chatting up the powers that be among the students here, and hobnobbing for support. I want to see “Dining Hall Workers for (insert candidate of your choice here)” signs bobbing up and down in a picket line.

Decrying us for the bunch of pot smoking, free love hippies that we are, The Irish Rover should also have its say in endorsing the candidate of its choice. That will probably be whichever candidate espouses the tenets of the one true narrative of Creationism in lieu of evolution. At The Observer, we’re all about equal opportunity.

We need delegates. Heck, why stop there? Just as in the Democratic Party primary, we need more than just regular delegates – we need superdelegates. We need student government officials, removed from the whims and passions of the people, to represent the potential swing vote and select the right candidates out of the goodness of their hearts and the fairness of their minds.

We need pundits and talking heads to analyze such important indicators of Election Day results as Facebook membership group numbers (at the moment Reish leads the mouse-click brigade, with over 700 members in his Facebook group). For that matter, the sheer number of a candidate’s Facebook friends will also likely portent the results of today’s election.

I’m not just talking about the issues here. I want to know the nitty-gritty, juicy details about every candidate and his or her personal life. We need scandals and swiftboating. I want candidates to anonymously leak links of embarrassing Facebook photos (tagged or untagged) to the media (read: us here at The Observer) so we can splash incriminating photo evidence on the front page and drag names through muck.

Let’s spice this bad boy up. After all, this is America. Anything else would be undemocratic.