Early Election Education

Wow! It has been quite a month. The virus has shut down the world. We have all taken to self-quarantine.  Liquor stores have been named essential businesses and apparently schools are not. I even heard a rumor that a politician did something intelligent. Who would have ever expected that? Unprecedented events like these are happening every day. The thing is, with all this virus news there’s still other things happening in the world. Really important stuff like; Harry and Megan quitting the royals, Toilet paper hoarders have been given a strong reprimand by the church, Cat videos are on the rise again, and of course the United States has that whole election thing going on.

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Yes, the election. A time when every four years Americans get together to hate each other. The problem with the election is that it is too long a process. We vote to choose the candidates then vote again to choose the office. It’s quite muddled, and results in a lot of animosity. Of course, this year we have an incumbent, this means half the country doesn’t have to worry. They are told who to vote for, and all is well. Nothing like the election of 1988.

Yes, that was a crazy year. For those of you who don’t remember, the candidates were Marty Stills and Anne Beaumont. What? You thought I was talking about the Bush, Dukakis battle? Rank amateurs compared to the war for the leadership of Room 9. Casualties were high and the history books debate its ethics, to this day.

Maybe some background is needed. In 1988, my Social Studies teacher was Miss Eugenia Birdwell. Who could hate a baby so much to name her Eugenia? Miss Birdwell was old. So old, I’m sure she attended the first election. Ever! Consequently, she liked teaching about elections. We were to hold a mock election. She didn’t just snag two candidates and run with it. Oh no, we actually held a Primary.

She divided our class of thirty-two in half, A-Q and R-Z. We became the Shark party and the Frog party. Which immediately resulted in the first skirmish of the conflict. John proclaimed an easy victory because sharks ate frogs for lunch. Marv started crying, he was a frog and afraid to be eaten. The battle escalated, until we went to science class and Mr. Crisp told us all John was wrong. Blood was averted.

The next day we selected potential candidates. Three for each side. The rest of us were divided into groups, behind a candidate, to plan our primary strategy. I was on team Ed Barnett. We had three days to come up with a platform. Ed wanted a platform of Everybody Should Be Friends. It sounded good, and we moved forward and made posters.When the debate came up, Anne accused Ed of being stupid. He started whimpering and wet his pants. I have seen some tough debates in my life but there has never been any crying. Also, no matter how much Elizabeth Warren attacked, I’m pretty sure Joe Biden never wet his pants. Although, I have no proof. Proving Birdwell politics is far worse than anything Washington can dish out.

Two days later we had our primary, and I learned an awful truth about political parties. I was a shark and was therefore handed a shark ballot. Frankly, I didn’t like any of them. I wasn’t voting for Soggy Pants Barnett, or the bully, Anne, and Bella’s platform of Unicorns for All seemed, frankly, unachievable. I wanted to vote for Lisa Resnik. She had auburn hair and green eyes and had gotten my elementary school hormones raging. I don’t know what her platform was, but who cared. I asked Miss Birdwell for a Frog ballot. She scowled at me so hard that some of the old crust on her face broke off. I was told I was a shark and I had to vote shark in the primary. I tried to explain that I didn’t agree with the shark platform, and was more of an independent. She re-informed me I was registered shark and the way primary’s work is I must vote my party. I was told to sit down, and as she said the words flames shot from her eyes. I sat down, saddened with the new truth about the American government. I swore I would vote Lisa in the general election.

Anne Beaumont was named for the sharks and Marty Stills was elected as the Frog candidate. There was also another lesson learned in the primary. Apparently, some arm twisting is needed to get votes. But more about that later.

On to the general election. The candidates had one week to convince Room 9 that they were the best for the job. As in every election there was a fair amount of mud-slinging. I remember one recess in particular when Bobby Baird didn’t like the way Mitch Zaller was talking and grabbed a large handful of mud and threw it at him. Several frogs retaliated covering Bobby with muck. Then all hell broke loose. There was so much filth flying that Miss Birdwell had to send us all home for the afternoon. Another lesson learned. Mud-Slinging yields positive results.

On the day before our election, there was the final debate. Marty started his speech with a cheery welcome and words about how political elections work. He pronounced it Poly-Tickle Lek-Chuns, which made him fun to listen to. Marty’s slogan was No Hogwash. He rambled about hogwash in all its elementary school forms. By the end of it we were psyched. None of us would ever wash a hog again. Anne’s arguments were more concise; Vote for her and she wouldn’t beat you up.

Well election day came and we voted. Anne won with twenty-one votes. Marty got seven and four people wrote in Lisa Resnik. I guess mine weren’t the only hormones Lisa had electrified.

 But this was not the end. For an election to have everything it must have a scandal and the election of 1988 was no exception. It was Soggy Pants who broke the news. He went to the nurse, in pain, with a huge red mark on his arm. At first, he wasn’t going to tell how he got it, but after some staring from the principal he confessed. Anne was engaging in a little arm twisting, literally. She actually gave him a stress fracture. Then several others came forward and admitted Anne had badly twisted their arms as well. This scandal was so huge that parents were called, Anne was suspended, and the story made the local newspaper. Room 9 was famous. The most surprising thing was that when they came to take her picture Miss Birdwell actually smiled. No one would have ever believed that.

But there’s more. It seems Marty brought a bag of Reese’s Cups to celebrate his win. Well he started handing them out early, and when Cindy Richards the tattle-tale, found out the incident grew into a bribery scandal. Marty insisted he only gave them to a few friends, and didn’t know it was wrong, but the damage was done. Marty resigned in disgrace and the presidency went to Lisa by default.  

The thing is no one asked what the president did. Lisa was required to pass out papers, first thing, every day. She hated it.

On the bright side, there were at least four guys who enjoyed watching Lisa walking past their desks each morning. 

Thank you for laughing

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