TLG’s Guide to Voting

Now don’t go and get your knickers in a knot – these aren’t endorsements. Far be it from me to, from the comfort of my 26th-story office, pass judgment on candidates I barely know, in an election in which I am ineligible to cast a vote. So rather than saying whom to vote for, I’ll go through questions to ask yourself when making up your own mind.

But first, a little indulgence:

Vote for Erin Rennie!
This is based on one simple principle: vote for the person who’s best for the job. I’ve worked, to varying degrees, with many of the candidates and, quite frankly, Erin’s the best. For serious. She’s got the competence, and a level of energy rivals even that of Mike Duncan, and doesn’t scream “give me attention!” She has probably achieved just as much in terms of improving students’ campus experiences as any other candidate. Most importantly, when she cares about something, she does it. She doesn’t form a committee, or make grand proclamations – she just does it. And that’s a quality we should strive for in leaders.

So, I can hear it now. “She’s running as a joke!” “She has a meagre platform!” “She doesn’t want the job!” All true (as far as I know). But I can only respond by quoting someone smarter than all of us: Plato. “The State in which the rulers are most reluctant to govern is always the best and most quietly governed, and the State in which they are most eager, the worst.” The best ruler is the reluctant ruler. You don’t want a ruler who’s in it for personal publicity or attention, or the gratification of getting love from the people that they couldn’t get from their father. Governing well and governing loudly are often incompatible; you want to elect a person who will govern well, and govern quietly. And when that person doubles as the best candidate, I happen to think the voting decision is remarkably easy.

Read my “how to make a voting decision” thoughts behind the jump.

The way this works is as a series of questions. I don’t have the answer – you do. Think of it as a filter through which to evaluate candidates, a lens through which to view them to decipher the identical Blogspot campaign sites and Facebook campaign groups.

What Have they Done?
The emphasis here is on “DONE.” They can probably list a zillion qualifications and committees and memberships – who cares? Find out what they’ve actually done with those opportunities. There’s nothing worse than a person who’s given a position of power and influence, then wastes it.

“I will change/improve AMS Council”If they were already on Council, why haven’t they done so already?
If they weren’t on Council, why not? Do they have a clue how it works? (Not to suggest that sitting on Council is a pre-requisite for executive. There can be a good answer to this question that makes them even more electable.)

“I will fight for better consultation with students”If you’ve ever seen them in a leadership role, have they personally consulted with students? Have they shown any inclination to consult themselves, or do they substitute their own views for those of “students”? It’s my experience that those who don’t consult are often useless advocates for the same.

Policy Priorities
Sure, policy priorities can be important. But this year, they’re not. There’s no significant ideological cleavage, no real debate on the merits of any particular issue or perspective. Most of the candidates are pretty much the same When they’re the same, don’t ask whether or not you agree with their opinion – instead, ask yourself if the candidate came to their opinion logically, and whether they expressed their opinion well. I don’t care if a candidate believes X over Y, I prefer if the candidate will, as they gain experience over the year, come to recognize that Y is preferable to X. And their logical reasoning is more important than their opinions.

Big Ideas
A lot of candidates have specific concrete ideas. Ignore them. Ideas fail and succeed for reasons far beyond their control, and, quite frankly, I don’t want a candidate who forces his ideas on the AMS machinery.
Instead, ask where that idea is coming from. Ask yourself why they identified this as a priority, and whether or not the fact that this is their idea illuminates a particular principle for which they stand. I call this the “Naiman Theory.” Her idea of a TV screen in the SUB showing UBC YouTube videos was rather silly, but the principle behind it, of giving students a stake in their own building and an outlet for their creativity was genius. And the principle is worth supporting, if not the idea.

Do they Play Well With Others?
No, this isn’t a popularity contest. But at the same time, some weight has to be given to their ability to work within a team. Most importantly, look at when they disagree. Do they disagree constructively, or do they go out of their way to antagonize others? Never, ever elect the latter. A year with a dysfunctional executive can have ramifications for years thereafter.

So these are the questions I tend to ask myself when voting, AMS or otherwise. They make it fun. And sometimes support prima facie absurd results – vote for Rennie!


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