Ah, Friday. Not just any Friday. This, my friends, is Good Friday. That day in April in when you can wake up and walk through Sproul, unaccosted by enormous signs bearing blown-up pictures of people you’ve never met shamelessly begging for your vote. Would I like a flier? You know, it’s not normally my thing, but today, what the heck? I’d love to learn more about your Asian business club!
The polls closed yesterday, and we’re all on the edge of our collective seat, biting nails nervously to see whose resumes just got a little thicker. Soon, congratulatory texts will be sent through campaigns by new senators. “Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication. Turns out people are really lonely, and those students you walked to class got the message. I — I mean, we won!”
So the ASUC will get ready to pass the torch to a new generation of idealists and pragmatists, CalServants and Student Actors and probably even a Squelcher or two. And the cycle of pretending what goes on in the ASUC Senate Chambers is a matter of life or death for Berkeley will continue. Snaps will echo off the walls, impassioned speeches will be given and who knows, maybe a divestment bill or two will sneak its way onto the floor, sparking a thoroughly courageous editorial from the Daily Cal. But those are things to come, things for next year.
What about the immediate? While 24 winners will be crowned, anxious to fill the echo chamber with hot air, some 70 or so other candidates are going to be crushed beneath a frightening reality. A majority of the 40 percent — or something absurdly low like that — of the student population who votes didn’t like those 70 candidates’ witty middle names, vague platforms about improving study space or promises to put a chicken in every pot. But that’s OK because we’re told life goes on, long after the thrill of campaigning is gone.
Take comfort in knowing you won’t become a punching bag for student groups. Walk with your head high, aware that, although you lost, and your antics were probably somewhat humiliating, you won’t be a constant source for comedy in the year to come. You won’t have to stand by a party platform poorly disguised as principles, and you won’t have to worry about some stupid Facebook post you made a long time ago (unless you run again, but why would you do that?).
Now you can go back to drinking coffee at FSM and mocking all things political like the rest of us (cue overly political, nonsenatorial ire). Your days will be filled with the stress of studying and worrying about why someone hasn’t texted you back; days filled with trips into the city, movies with friends and inside jokes about your old campaign. You’ll quickly realize and appreciate a freedom you had always taken for granted, one no amount of resume-padding could ever make up for.
I’m sure you’ll have a friend or two — especially if you were goaded into running with one of the big parties — who will emerge victorious on this day. Congratulate them, sure, and try to smile through your defeat. It’s only natural to feel shitty. I promise there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
It might sound like I’m speaking from experience, and that’s because I kind of am. I never ran for an ASUC position, but I know someone who has. Way back when I was a freshman, I proudly held a sign for one of my best friends. We Sprouled out harder than anyone I’d ever known. I think I even asked if I could walk someone to class — she said no. Some things never change.
At the end of the election season, we fell short. But my friend — one of the true superstars of humanity — kept on keeping on. Because sometimes that’s all there is to do: bump some John Cougar Mellencamp, sing that ditty about Jack and Diane and remember that life goes on. It always does.
By the next fall, dreams of being a senator were replaced by the pleasant realities of watching senators put on free comedy shows. Hours that would have been spent poring over bylaws and pointless resolutions could instead be allocated to the better things Berkeley has to offer: literally, everything else this else place has to offer.
It’s a funny and strange thing, the way we can get so caught up in a single moment or event, magnifying it to such an extreme that the event becomes the end-all and be-all. That falling short spells disaster in the present and, perhaps more frighteningly, in the future. But then we fall short. Maybe it’s a few votes, or maybe it’s a few hundred — the numbers eventually become meaningless.
And that’s when you really get a measure of who you are, what you stand for and what you’re willing to live without. I’m selfish, so when I look back at the results of our brief campaigning effort, I’m beyond happy she could live without the ASUC.
Congratulations, losers. One day you’ll find that happiness too.