Less Satire, More Substance

This year I made the decision to run for Student Council President. A group of students, obviously dedicated to the election, entered campaign mode in an instant. Instead of last year’s 18 candidates, only 12 began the process of running this year, but the pool was no less competitive. As a candidate, I feel like my life was consumed by the election whether I wanted it to be or not. Not only did I focus on it when I had allotted times to put posters up, but many of my friends and even people I didn’t know began coming up to me to ask, “How’s the election going?” I always had conflicted feelings about these encounters. While I was thrilled that people were interested in my candidacy, I was also was trying to maintain my life outside of the election. Throughout all these interactions, my intent was always to win the support of people I spoke to but never by explaining my platform. I instead tried to win them over with my humor. I not only told more jokes (and laughed at many jokes that weren’t funny) than I normally do, but I also focused my entire campaign around humor. It is an unfortunate fact that many Andover students don’t take the time to read through each candidate’s platforms, and if they do, they care more about whether the candidate’s posters make them laugh. Although there have definitely been some positive changes to the election process since last year, like the restriction of certain unrealistic ideas from appearing in platforms, the election process still has a long way to go. Having participated in the first round of the presidency, I know that candidates focus mainly on the posters. Instead of featuring platform points, I felt pressured to feature YouTube videos, popular songs, and cheap jokes. Each focused more on appearances and humor than substance. It is deplorable that the first round, in which this year half of the candidates were eliminated, consists primarily of poster-advertisement. By the time half of the 12 candidates had been eliminated, not one debate had taken place, not one interview had been conducted and not one speech had been delivered. This year, I know the remaining six candidates personally, and I believe that all of them are qualified and would do a great job. In the current system for future years, however, that will not always be the case. In an election process where so many of the candidates are eliminated before even one substantive event occurs, there is far too large of a chance that the school will end up with someone who will accomplish little or nothing for Andover. I am confident that whoever wins will do a spectacular job as president, and I strongly encourage each candidate to adopt campaign reform as part of his or her platform. It is vital that steps be taken to ensure that the first round of the election is based on a candidate’s ideas and not on their humor. Danny Gottfried is a three-year Upper from Andover, MA.