Op-Ed : Blake, don’t pull an Al Gore

February 7, 2009

The recent AMS elections left me with a warm feeling in my heart in more ways than one.  It was the highest turnout in UBC history, over 6000 students, a big achievement in a  campus democracy.  None of the joke or special interest candidates, entertaining/thought provoking  though they were, won a huge number of votes, so students took it seriously.  The debates were lively affairs with real discussion of policies and issues in  a way that puts some of our ‘professional’ federal and provincial politicians to shame.  And finally, although all the candidates were generally of a high quality, the winners seemed to be the real cream of the crop, the electorate was not swayed by popularity or catchy slogans.

A great day for democracy.

But, democracy is a delicate jewel, and you can never rest easy that it is ever truly safe.  Democracy requires eternal vigilance. (I’m certain someone has said that before me but I know not who.)  So if you haven’t read your favourite, friendly neighbourhood ubc news source in the past few hours, you should go take a look.  Blake Frederick, the recently elected AMS President has, according to an email and various news sources, been disqualified from running (let alone winning) because of an accused breach of the rules on ‘slates’. I won’t go into details (read more:Insiders, Spectator, RadicalBeer) but it amounts to not allowing candidates to run as a quasi-party with a unified platform.  It seems clear Blake did not do this overtly since no one has heard about this until today.  The question is whether he did this covertly in some way, agreeing too much with other candidates and portraying their collective aggreeability as a kind of strength of electing them all together as a slate.  I won’t say if that is true or not, if that’s against the rules, people should look into it.  Then people should consider whether those rules are reasonable in the first place.

But that’s not the purpose of this post.

The purpose of this post is to voice support for Blake engaging in the appeals process.  He is very likely doing this already, but I would like to publicly voice the importance of the appeal for the sake of UBC’s burgeoning democracy.  Remember Al Gore?  He was, and still is for that matter, a very honourable man.  When he won the popular vote but lost the electoral college in the 2000 US Election he went through the Supreme Court process but eventually stepped back from continuing appeals for the good of democracy and accepted defeat.  Now Blake seems also to be a very honourable fellow.  And I would just like to urge him, to suppress any of those impulses which may appeal to him to simply accept this ruling. He should engage in the appeals process heartily. Exploring  all possible avenues fully.  I am not suggesting to go beyond that if there is no legitimate extra form of appeal. But I am suggesting that if a duly elected president is overturned, even a closely contested one, or perhaps especially a closely contested one, it will be very damaging to the democracy on this campus.  I would predict turnout in later elections to be much less and general apathy about voting in general to increase.   These would be horrible outcomes.  So I implore President-elect Frederick and the AMS Elections Comittee to seriously consider what is happening here.  Don’t allow this tumultuous shock to our democracy to occur unless it is absolutely unavoidable and clear, unethical conduct has actually been committed.

Mark Crowley is a PhD student in the Department of Computer Science.
The opinions expressed in this  article are not necessarily endorsed by FairVoteUBC, the BC-STV campaign or FairVoteCanada.



2 Responses to “Op-Ed : Blake, don’t pull an Al Gore”

  1. The exact quote is “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” and it is by Thomas Jefferson. Good article by the way.
    Frédéric Van Caenegem

  2. […] fall I asked Blake Frederick not to step down in the wake of his first scandal.  That scandal, SlateGate?,  happened before he was even confirmed president in a complaint that […]

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