Let’s be honest: School politics are about popularity above all

By Clay Thompson | Reporter

If I’m going to turn myself into an opinionated pariah, I might as well go all out. It’s election season at Baylor, and as per usual, candidates are putting up posters, creating Instagram accounts and campaigning for votes.

Before going on, I have nothing personally against politics or campaigns for politics on campus. It is a necessary process to get representatives elected and to let the diverse student body be heard in campus happenings. However, with that being said, I can confidently say that while all politics, in general, are affected by some form of popularity to some degree, campus elections revolve around popular candidates.

Think about it: When you vote for a candidate, do you vote for someone who you believe is totally qualified and whose policies you 100% agree with? Or do you vote for your friend, the friend of a friend, a fraternity or sorority sibling or, just in general, someone on campus who is well liked or well known?

This doesn’t mean that these people aren’t qualified or don’t have policies you agree with, but you have to ask yourself, what is the main reason you are voting for them? Is it personal feelings or logic? While those are not mutually exclusive, it’s still something to consider when you endorse a candidate or vote.

Let me use a hypothetical as an example. If I were to run for a political position, such as student senator — yes, me, Clay Thompson — is it likely that I would win? I would likely run on a more moderate yet slightly conservative-leaning campaign platform, with promises that would likely appeal to many in the student body.

Would I win? Of course not. Why? Well, I am a more introverted student for one, so I am likely not very well known around campus except for my Lariat presence. I don’t know if I am well liked, if I am being honest, but now it comes down to the most important factor: social media.

I currently stand at 532 followers on Instagram (including some Baylor political candidates’ campaign accounts) and much fewer on Snapchat. I am not active on Facebook, but let’s be honest, it’s the first two that students usually care about. Meanwhile, candidates for this Baylor campaign season average somewhere between 60 and 8,000 followers on their personal accounts on Instagram, and that’s just of candidates I know of.

Followers and popularity will likely determine the outcome of college political races for student government nine times out of 10. I am not intending to be some embittered student simply complaining about politics being a popularity contest. Personally, I want those who are qualified, have good policies for students and have the best intentions to succeed and represent our student body, not people looking for more followers or things to add to their resumes.

Please, if there is any message I want students to take away from this, it is that you should make the choice of candidates you truly believe in. Look into who is running for which positions, make an informed decision and vote for yourself.