There are about 60 of us on campus who, right here and now, think that the current UC race is an incredibly big deal (and some of us more entertained/involved than others). These are essentially members of the Council and the close friends of the especially active handful, the candidates and their close friends, a dozen people at the Crimson who cover and comment on such things, one of the writers at Cambridge Common, a few of the people over at Team Zebra (certainly not all), and someone in a basement somewhere who writes for the Indy. That’s pretty much it. After that, there’s probably a layer of student group leaders and other active folk (some journalists, etc.) who care but not a ton, a layer of people who care enough to know a little and vote, a layer who will vote for who their friends tell them, and nearly half the campus that won’t vote at all.
I’m not sure a lot those 60 people get that, though. (more in expanded post)
You can see from reading a lot of the writing that has taken place here in the last week and a half (including mine) that there’s a common language and interest that suddenly comes out during these public elections. If you think about it, the campaigns are essentially a small community of people having a conversation (the Council, the candidates, student group leaders, Crimson/blog writers and campaign staffs) and a lot of other people watching confused, interested, amused, disgusted, all of the above or simply not caring at all. This little community, especially the UC/Crimson community, essentially spend 8 months out of the school year having these conversations and for a month every year we parade them about and try to win or influence elections. As a result, it’s not clear to me (or it has struck me) that this little community may or may not have any idea how to communicate with others about its issues. Maybe this, not an actual frustration with the Council, that makes people like outsider candidates. It’s not that they’re self is uncorrupted by the evil system, but it’s just their language that has been. Outsiders don’t talk as if an audience has an assumed level of knowledge about the topic (often because they themselves don’t); they don’t throw around acronyms and committees without explaining or they simply don’t through them around. A whole lot of us do…
You can’t really blame anyone. Think about if you had to parade your community’s debates around for campus once a year. But still, it’s entertaining to watch people try and struggle to shift into mass-communication mode when you spend the rest of your year in meetings and committees, writing legislation and generally doing your job… No wonder Senators don’t often get elected.