Monday, November 7

Fraternal elections and politics

My fraternity had its semester elections tonight. It was interesting in that in one sense, it reflected politics today; and another that it showed an idealized view of what can be. Even in such a small group as mine of 30 odd men, there is still the politicking and backroom dealing to get what one group wants done.

I may hate to admit it, but there are divisions in my fraternity. Though typically a plague of the larger houses of 50+ men, cliques are present even here. Ominously, my particular fraternity's division is singular. That is, there are two, roughly equal groups with little presence of a 'moderate' group. Much like American voters, we agree on most issues that come before the house. The divisions come out on only a few key issues, yet they come out with thinly- veiled hate for the other's position. The issues themselves are irrelevant to this post, but what is more relevant what it means to be associated with the different groups.

We were eventually reduced to two candidates for the presidency-- Which was an interesting process, given that we started out with five candidates, two for my side and three for their's. They reduced their candidates through an eerily similar process to national politics to achieve the maximum possible chance of win. As for my side, I bowed out to focus more on school and my role as the Philanthropy Chairman. Anyway, once their respective speeches were done and both had left the room, we soon learned some spooky similarities to national politics were within our election.

For one, neither candidate was the best for the job in the house. Because of various personal problems, it was readily apparent that there were better candidates in the house. However, they were what the system had given us, and we ended up defending every point we could about our candidate of choice. For example: One candidate was accused of being too emotional in times of stress. An objective enough claim. But the amount of vitriol put forth by his 'party' in defense/ in offense of the other candidate was enough to make the Swift Boat boys blush in admiration. They attacked the opposition candidate for things that he personally was not part of, but was victim to anyway because of who supported him.

Secondly, it became painfully obvious that after a bit of civil discussion, the sides were set in their choice for candidate. The only reason for more discussion was to get the three or four men still sitting on the fence. The other twenty three were locked in stone with their decision. It was the same back- and- forth argument for twenty minutes. "My argument." "My argument!" "My same argument!" "My Same Argument!!" And so on and so on...

But not all was bleak. In a marked break from national politics, there was a solution. No one in the fraternity wanted a divided Executive Board. Both sides agreed (unspokenly) that whoever would win the Presidency, the other side's candidate would become the Vice President. And so it was. Yours truely's candidate was made the VP, with hopes for the other side's. In reflection, I thought of the rumors of the 'Dream Ticket' of Kerry- McCain from back in 'o4. The thought that, "if only we could have a bipartisan ticket, everything would be alright." was very inviting then, as it was tonight. But unfortunately, my Fraternity cannot reflect back onto the political stage, even if it is retroactively. Though Kerry and McCain never made it, the choice made tonight here gives this already cynical observer a ray of hope for the future; even if it is for something as small as 30 guys in a house speaking Greek.

So now, as I finish my second glass of Port (If has ever been ANYTHING to come out if the Iberian Peninsula as divine as Port, I don't want to know), I reflect on the divided nation we inhibit. Even in the supposedly red state of Idaho, there are those who want consensus instead of division; unity instead of infighting. Perhaps someday, we can have the bipartisan tickets of yore. But then I wonder if that would solve anything. Would a divided White House be a bastion of cooperation, or just another arena of infighting within American Politics? I don't know the answer, honestly. But I do know that my Port is gone, and I should go to bed. Professor Crowley's 'Law & Society' class is tomorrow, and if it's anything like the last few classes, he'll have much to say about Scalito.

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