By Rory Noble
Most people realize that it is ASEOU election time once again on campus. Candidates have their “Vote for me!” messages painted on windows and plastered on every imaginable surface in most every building on campus. Their hope: enough votes to become the president or a senator for ASEOU.
For those who were around last spring and read my opinion piece on the campus election then, you may remember the pitiful turnout for the elections. Just about ten percent of the student body voted. My concern then was taking that pitiful turnout and putting it in a real life situation in the real world. Who would be affected by a ten percent turnout in a governor’s race in Oregon? The ten percent that voted, and maybe some who didn’t. Do you want just ten percent of your neighbors choosing who runs your government? I don’t.
This will be an interesting election on campus since I am the one who has been spouting the word “apathetic student body” so loudly for so long. However, of more interest to me are rumors I hear about a candidate having a possible police record of some kind. What? A candidate for a political office (even at EOU) is not a squeaky-clean, Bible-thumping, by-the-book perfect human being? Inconceivable! (Finally, that “Princess Bride” reference we’ve all been waiting for.)
I’ve been around a while and I’ve seen a lot of political campaigns…real ones that affect millions of people, not just the 2,000 or so that call EOU home while taking classes. I’ve heard names called and seen reputations defended more times than I care to count. I still see it today with people blaming President Obama for everything that is wrong with the United States at this time. I’ve got news for you kids: it started going wrong before most of you were born. No one person is to blame, especially the one who inherits the crap storm of the previous office holder. But I digress.
What does it matter if someone has had a little scrape with the law, especially when it comes to EOU politics? There are probably not many people older than 25 or so who are interested in ASEOU positions. Most of the non-traditional students have job and/or a family. They are working their butts off trying to keep up with their life and school responsibilities and have little time for other campus activities.
That leaves the more traditional college student involved in student government. That’s probably how it should be anyway. The younger generation has that inner initiative and optimism to gather the masses and make a difference. That is a good thing. However, the younger generation needs to think of the benefit to the larger group rather than just the benefit to themselves. One minor indiscretion does not a criminal make.
Consider the affect a parking ticket, a speeding ticket or even a charge brought against a person who was underage at the time has on the ability to govern. Absolutely nothing. It might be different if the charge were theft, forgery or DUI, but if it’s something minor, then it is just that: minor. The big time politicians seem to thrive on their muck-racking ability, but this is EOU. Trying to dredge up past indiscretions in an opponent’s life in order to better another’s position is rather petty, don’t you think?
Regardless of our personal upbringing, we all have a social conscious that tells us what right is and what wrong is. However, we also have a moral scale that tells us that some things are more wrong than others are. We have to overlook the past mistakes of people every day in our lives. If we didn’t, we probably wouldn’t develop the friendships we have or the trust in those friendships.
Politics is a slippery slope at best. It’s difficult (for me) not to rant on the imperfections of the system while ignoring the benefits of good governance. But good governance does not mean those governing are perfect; it means they have learned from their mistakes and moved forward. Everyone else should do the same.