Mar 272011
 
Authors: Johnathan Kastner

The ASCSU election is here, and you have an important choice in front of you. Not who to vote for –– that’s likely irrelevant. Politicians are mostly a grab-bag of broken promises and shattered dreams, mixed in with occasional blind-luck based success. The important choice, then, is in how you are going to exercise the hollow right of voting like it matters.
Some people will try to become educated and base their decision based on whose views seem to align most with theirs. Politicians know this, and so tell the happiest lies they can.

Notice how every candidate ever will balance the budget and decrease fees or taxes at the same time. Like your childhood plan to eat cake forever without ever seeing a dentist again, there are some tragic flaws.

So, let’s look at how most people actually vote, rather than how they claim they vote. That’s the real choice.

First, there’s voting for whoever is the tallest. Now, while the tallest person doesn’t already win, the shorter person rarely does. In U.S. presidential races, the shorter candidate has only won 33 percent of the time, by popular vote. This is a solid voting strategy, in that it is simple and guaranteed to get you what you voted for –– a tall guy.
There’s the occasional problem of ties in height, or the tallest person being also the most indicted for arson. In this case, there are other options.

Voting for the prettier person always is comfortable. If there’s one thing movies have taught us, it’s that unattractive people who oppose attractive people are also evil.

Ugliness is a director’s shorthand for, “target your hate lasers here.” Your primary interaction with someone you elect is going to be seeing their face pasted on newspapers and televisions. It’s essentially decorating.

Of course, some people aren’t pretty, but are still somehow charming, like Abraham Lincoln, or a pug. In that case, you might have to dig a little deeper.

Specifically, look at their hobbies. Maybe they like a sports team, and you’re pretty sure that said sports team killed the dinosaurs and plan to strike again. Or, conversely, maybe they use the same brand of smartphone as you. Now you’re bonding on common ground! Pretending that you are looking for a friend, instead of an elected representative, simplifies the process nicely.

Friend you already have can be an excellent decision making tool, should the previous approach fail. It’s a small campus –– maybe you know and are friends with the candidate. Or maybe you know whom your friends are voting for. It would be awkward if you ended up voting for someone else and realized you had different opinions than your friends.

Of course, as it is a college campus, it’s not likely that your friends are voting. You’ll have to look even deeper for an answer. You’ll have to brave the Internet and the serious business therein.

Candidates have websites that present a public face to the world, and try to give you a snippet of who they are in the tenth-of-a-second before you switch back to Facebook. In this way, you can learn what color goes with what candidate, and see what each candidate supports. Granted, these websites will often say the same thing, word for word, as their other promotional material. But it will also have additional content –– like a behind the scenes on a movie you didn’t really want to watch anyway.

If this was a more official election, you could always just vote along party lines, but we don’t have the luxury of that kind of knee-jerk reaction.

Remember –– voting is an important way to direct the future, whether on a local level or national. And if you follow my advice, you, unlike most voters, at least will be honest about why you’re directing it the way you are.

Johnathan Kastner is in his second year of his second bachelor degree, majoring in computer science. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 2:35 pm

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