7th grade civics.

Posted: February 24, 2016 in Uncategorized

In 7th grade I took the plunge into politics.
I decided to run for student council
Despite the fact that I was an actual student, I was woefully unqualified.
Sadly, that didn’t stop me.

I’m pretty sure I ran because of a need for attention or acceptance or popularity.
I wanted people to think I was cool and important (I’m convinced that those are some of the same reasons that people run today.)
I drew campaign posters with a very flattering self portrait. If memory serves I had a very catchy slogan: “VOTE FOR LUKE AND YOU WON’T PUKE” (it actually rhymes if you read it fast).
On Election Day, we gave speeches in front of the entire student body.
We gathered in the gym. The air smelled like sweat and democracy.
I was wearing my nicest Welcome Back Kotter t-shirt.
Everyone else made nice speeches about social responsibility and school spirit.
They talked about changing the dress code or cafeteria menu (less mystery meat, more tator tots).
I got up and made some jokes, including one zinger about growing a beard. (Prophetic irony?)
I got some laughs and I got elected.
It was a middle school miracle.
I learned a couple of things that day.
I learned I REALLY love making people laugh.
I also learned a powerful lesson about the American political system.
You don’t have to be the right person if you can be the loudest person.
You can avoid all the questions about qualification if you can stand out…
If you can say what others aren’t saying or won’t say…
If you can entertain or distract…
You will probably get elected.
It’s pretty superficial.
Politics has become more about surface than service.
Culture trumps character (no pun intended).
Politicians dance around and make big hairy promises.
They play to prejudice and tell us what we want to hear.

I didn’t have an impressive student council career at all.
At the time, i wasn’t interested in social responsibility or school spirit.
I just wanted people to think I was cool.
The only thing I managed to accomplish is to really annoy the other student council officers (all of whom were 8th graders)
I quickly learned that I wasn’t cut out for politics.
Too many meetings.
Too many mind games that I wasn’t equipped for.
I wasn’t concerned about the issues, I just wanted to get invited to some parties.
But, a political party ain’t really a party at all.

The primary thing (pun intended) is that we have to choose substance over sound bite.
Social responsibility and school spirit might be a good place to start.
Then we could do something about tator tots!

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