Planned, written and edited in a forty minute time limit using the word 'Voting' as inspiration. Voting, elections, political campaigning; all elements of a state with a proper democratic process. Or so I have been told growing up. Nearing my thirties I have now been a participant in numerous local, state and federal elections each with their own significance. Yet of all these democratic experiences, one trumps them all as being the most profound. It was that of my primary school sports captain election.
Ironically held in the same under-covered school courtyard that houses the local, state and federal government voting booths during actual elections, my primary school 2005 sports captain elections were one that I remember fondly even to this day. Not only is this a fond memory because my friend Jackson rapped his election speech to the hundred or so eligible student voters, but also because the teaching staff interfered in what was meant to be a free election. Their interference was noticed by me at the time, but it wasn’t until recently that the magnitude of what I saw really hit me.
Shortly before Jackson would stand at the mic and spit fire upon the disinterested crowd, a student stood at the podium, introduced themselves, and proclaimed that with their election as sports captain they would ensure the deliverance of a bounty of lollies, sugary drinks and other unhealthy foods to every student during the swimming and sports carnivals. Talk about a textbook appeal to the interest of the voting population. Unfortunately the teaching administration didn’t quite see it that way. In their eyes this constituted bribery and any other student whose election speech promised any sort of confectionary compensation in exchange for the student’s vote would be deemed ineligible for election and their name struck from the voting ballot. Speeches were to promote only one’s character traits and how they pertained to the role of sports captain, nothing more.
I didn’t recognise it at the time, mostly because I became so caught up in Jackson’s rap that I forgot that a spontaneous no bribery rule had been instigated, but I had just bared witness to a very interesting piece of politico-social discourse. As the 2021 state elections in Western Australia draw closer my social spheres, both physical and virtual, have become a battleground of competing political propaganda. Promises are made about funding, developments, business and economic growth. Yet I see very few candidates promoting their own character traits, promoting the education and skills they have which would make them a quality policymaker in our democracy. Yet nobody is stepping in to draw attention to this immoral bribery.
Would my teachers back in that late summer of 2005 see today’s political campaigning as bribery? You would think so given that political campaigning has barely changed its tune in the last twenty years. You must wonder why adults of both today and yesteryear hold children who are willing to turn their hat sideways and rap their way to political success to a higher moral standard than the people in charge of billions of dollars of taxpayer money. Truly fascinating.