Disconnected sundry thoughts

VFM Hasn’t Failed
Last year we (the VFMs, collectively) created a discourse around issues in the election, and there was a meaningful campaign for the first time in a long while. This year has been less successful, but the media are still influencing how candidates comport themselves and, heck, we even convinced a joke candidate to “go serious.”

Voter turnout shouldn’t be the end goal, nor should it be the yardstick by which VFM success is measured. Voters will only vote when they care; people only care when the people around them care. The VFM project is about building an information base and enlarging the AMS’ critical mass. Even though, last year, the same number of people cast votes as in previous, I’d wager that they were more informed than the year before. At a minimum, it’s creating a new class of informed students. And I’d want to see four years’ worth of results before judging it a failure.

Knoll Slate
My first rule of student politics: never underestimate the left at UBC. No matter the electoral system, there will always be a viable “left-wing” element at UBC. (I hate the term but I use it because people know what I mean.) Since the SPAN days it has been given life by The Knoll which, last year, ran a de facto slate. This year the slate is less pronounced, but still there.

The reason the left can never be discounted is because they have a powerful built-in voter base. First, there will always be a activist core on campuses, and they’re politically engaged. Second, there will be students who, because they’re young, gravitate to the left-wingers because it feels right and appeals to their sensibilities. No matter the merits of the candidates, they’ll get those votes. And that can be enough.

That leads me to two conclusions about this year. First, they’re getting better at abandoning the revolutionary zeal during election time. Check out Nate Crompton’s web page. It’s not only slick and worth of Students for Students at its finest, but it’s downright educational. And a very interesting read. And only uses the word “capitalism” once. And, most importantly, it’s good. (That’s not meant as a backhanded compliment. It’s really very good and insightful.) Second, watch out for Rodrigo. In a year with two Presidential candidates with broad appeal, and a third “wild card” with an interesting cross-section of elite and popular support, that solid voter base might be enough for Rodrigo to win. Especially since I suspect that voter turnout might hit a new low, he could easily get enough support to win.

What’s wrong with being a “hack”? I’m pretty sure it’s a pejorative term, isn’t it? Of course that’s the very question – how to define “hack”? Often people tend to use it as a synonym for someone who’s hyper-involved, likes to fancy themselves on the “inside.” I have a hard time seeing that as necessarily negative. Just because someone gets involved in student politics and devotes their energies to boosting the campus doesn’t make them a “hack.”

See being a “hack” use to be unequivocally a bad thing. Then, during the halcyon days Wahid, McKechnie, Keys et al., the term was appropriate. Reclaimed, if you will, to mean something more positive.

I always resisted it, as I see the term far more negative implications. I see a hack as someone who’s in politics for ambition’s sake, who derives pleasure from being close to power, from the illusion that they themselves have any whatsoever. It’s someone whose self-esteem is riding on their election result, and for whom the pursuit of power, and the attention it entails, is just as important as eventually getting it. And that’s bad. There are people who fit this description in the AMS, and there are a great many involved people who don’t. Don’t confuse them.

(For a good example of hackery, see the comment on the post below signed by “#96.” That’s Spencer Keys, feeling the need to remind the world that he was the 96th AMS President. Although I’m sure Spencer has enough self-awareness that the irony was intentional. Or was it?)

Since when did it become a pissing contest about endorsements? From my understanding, it’s become an issue that some candidates have more/better endorsements than others. All the lack of endorsements proves is that the candidate didn’t solicit them from someone – it doesn’t prove that nobody supports his/her campaign. Think logically – the absence of something doesn’t prove that it doesn’t exist.

Moreover, an endorsement can come from many places. From a “I think they’re the best” to a sense of duty to a personality clash with an opponent. They’re really worth nothing more than face value, and it bothers me to see people making any noise about them beyond that.

(Also, kudos to the Devil’s Advocate. Dis-endorsing is probably one of the most brilliant ideas ever.)

Finally, I can’t help but notice that this little blog has started a bit of a trend. I find it entertaining that “insider” has become a part of the discourse in a funny new way – people trying to define themselves negatively vis-a-vis us. The Thunderbird’s blog is entitled “UBC Outsiders,” the Devil’s Advocate prides themselves on being “Insider-free.”

Yet their controlling minds read our site daily. This amuses me.

True story: Gina and I came up with the name on the couch one afternoon last January. “We need something like UBC Insiders, only better.” And lo, it was born.

(Edited to add a shout-out to VPF candidate Andrew, who wants to “make everyone a UBC Insider”!)


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