Yes, I know. It’s that time of year when every cool kid worth his salt casts his cynical eye over the union elections, and declares with sparkling wit that the whole affair is in fact a ‘big pile of shit’. It’s become one of those opinions, like ‘believing in God is rubbish’ and ‘George Bush is well stupid’, which while probably true, are voiced by so many vapid cretins joining the ‘let’s be a bit controversial’ fan-club, that I’m forced to convert to Christianity and become a staunch supporter of the war in Iraq, just to put some distance between them and myself.
That said, here’s my cool, edgy take on the subject.
I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t even have known there were elections on if someone hadn’t left the special election manifesto book, complete with inexplicable picture of Spiderman on the front, in the shitter. So I had a quick flick through it, raising my eyebrows at some of the candidates’ more ridiculous policies (“No more lectures in the morning. Or afternoon.”, “Free buses to take you anywhere on Earth”).
There was even a real policy (not a made up satirical one like the ones I did just now), that suggested trying to strong-arm the supermarkets into delivering all shopping to students on campus for free. Come on,Tescos is only a ten minute walk or less for most people on campus. Frankly, I’m insulted by the implication that all students are so inherently lazy, that they’d vote for a union president on the basis of not having to walk to Tescos. Even though I am inherently lazy, and would probably vote for a union president on the basis of not having to walk for Tescos. That is, if I thought Tesco’s doing free delivery to everyone on campus was even a remote logistical possibility. Which it clearly isn’t.
But looking at these increasingly ridiculous manifesto promises, I came to realise what all the candidates had clearly also realised: no-one cares about the union elections. These stupid policies weren’t necessarily evidence of stupid people, rather it was evidence of people clearly desperate to get even a flicker of interest from the majority of the student population.
Well, it didn’t work. Myself, I would have put down the special manifesto book, flushed the toilet, washed my hands, and completely forgotten about the whole thing, had I not happened to be playing pool with a friend in the Union this afternoon.
As it was, I was happily winning at pool when I was accosted by a union man. ‘Have you voted yet?’, he asked me in a desperate voice. I briefly considered saying ‘yes’, so he would go away, but instead for some reason I said ‘no’, at which point I had another special manifesto book thrust into my hand, and was ordered to go and vote, because no-one else had, and if they didn’t get any more voters, then they’d have to do the whole thing all over again (presumably forever). He did say we could finish our game of pool first though. Nice guy. Seriously though, he looked like a kid at his eighth birthday party just coming to the realisation that even though he gave an invitation to all the kids, none of them are going to show up. Because none of them like him.
Well, what was I going to do? Flick through the manifesto book and pick who to vote for on a purely arbitrary basis, like who has the worst hair, or which one used the word ‘and’ the most times in their manifesto? If they want to generate votes like that, they might as well get a monkey to randomly check all the slips.
Personally, if I had voted, it would have been for one of the candidates who hadn’t submitted a manifesto. Seriously, you can submit a manifesto with a picture of you gurning like the last lunatic in the asylum, or you can have dignity, but you can’t have both.
But of course, I didn’t vote. And by the time I was accosted by another union man when I was leaving, I’d learnt my lesson, and politely answered ‘Yes. We voted just now’.
So, who’s at fault for all the voter apathy? Is it me, the apathetic voter? Shit, it is, isn’t it? But I don’t think this is your common or garden ‘too cool for school’ apathy. Rather, I just genuinely don’t think that I would be able to correctly identify the best candidate for the job based purely on their ridiculous manifestos. And I’m not prepared to take the time out to go and investigate extensively to find out who’s the best because, I think, ultimately all candidates are much of a muchness. It’s not like one candidate is going to tear down the Union and build a Death Star, and the other candidate is going to bring about peace on Earth for all men. They’re all going to do broadly the same thing, I imagine.
The best solution I can come up with is drawing names out of a hat. That, or turning the union elections into a prime time reality show on ITV, and getting everyone to text their vote in. Yeah, I went there.