Election Harrassment

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“As a nation, we have succeeded, not because we struggle with one another, but because we somehow have learned to recognize that the single issue that will always call us to arms is one that requires the defense of each other – a defense against the aggression that strikes at the heart of the American experience and endangers our freedom and ability to self-govern.”

This is the introductory paragraph to votesmart.org, an up-and-coming website designed to protect the American public from the harassment of the running parties, spin doctors, pollsters and even the candidates themselves. If you would have asked me if this sort of site was necessary years ago, I wouldn’t have seen the point, but college life has—unfortunately—opened my eyes to the sad truth that these things do happen, that there are people out there so blindly dedicated to their cause that they are willing to put a fellow American’s comfort at stake, if only to feel as if they have served their own selfish purpose of promoting their candidate.

I’m speaking chiefly of Barack Obama’s force of vacuous protégés whose campaigns I’m sure most of you have seen at various places around campus. I dare say that a majority of students have been victimized by their senseless frenzies of ranting and raving. Another word for this is called ‘bullying.’ Dictionary.com defines a bully as, “A blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.” From the treatment I received Monday and in previous days, I believe it to be a highly accurate phrase that explains the behavior of these people.

Let me explain. I had an exam in my worst class set to be taken at 3:30 p.m. So, I got ready, catch the bus up to campus with ten minutes to spare. I had intended on using those ten minutes to squeeze in some last-minute-studying. The first thing I see when I walk into the Student Services Center is a table encouraging people to get their pictures taken with Obama. No big deal.

As I progress further, this girl stops me and asks me if I know where I will be voting. I didn’t know at this point, but I intended to look it up; I still had a week left to do some research. So, I say yes to avoid the hassle, and as I go to rush on to my room downstairs, the young male head of the campaign (I’m sure you all know who I’m talking about) steps in front of me to block my path, invades my personal space and stares down at me with a raised brow and snidely asks, “Oh yeah? Where?”

I have never in my life been accosted like I was then, and, in truth, it was none of their business. I would suppose that their point is to raise awareness about voting and make sure everyone knows what they need to know to vote. I actually find that to be a noble cause. But it’s a fine line to walk, and for a stranger to assert himself so strongly upon someone like that is just wrong. It is a despotic thing to do, and it’s time that these people be called out on their disrespect.

So where does this lead us? Well, I would say that it leads people to an enraged feeling reminiscent of that produced by the crazy Christians that protested in the quad last year. It’s the same story: a noble cause carried out in the wrong way. Note, I am in no way supporting what those protestors stood for, merely focusing on the way they went about it.

And how does this make us feel? Well, we feel unfairly abused and harassed.

Is this the message that Barack Obama is trying to send? What I’m getting at here is, by recruiting these people to support his cause, he’s ironically turning people away, as their behavior is reflective in some ways of his own. Barack Obama wants the citizens of America to trust him and believe he can be a good leader, but does a good leader let harassments like these happen? And if so, how many people do you really think would want to vote for him?

I actually spoke to a few members of the group BU Students for Obama, and they were surprised by what they heard. They said that the campaign leader is nothing but a nice guy, a fact I want to and am willing to believe. But what about the treatment I received? Later in the conversation, their justification came out as, “Well, at least it’s better than what the Republicans do.” And curiously, I asked, “What’s that?” Do you know what the answer was? “Nothing.” Tack on a few condescending ‘ha ha ha’s to that and it’s almost enough to make a person utterly despise Obama’s supporters.

Maybe the Republicans aren’t doing as much, but in the end, is that really hindering their case or actually helping it? I’ll leave you to decide. All I know is that I am sick and tired of the election chaos, and that I would definitely give up my time to help support an election process that was more civil and respectable.

That means no menacing, abusive campaigns on college campuses, or anywhere, for that matter, and no ridiculously immature commercials denouncing each other. It’s time for the world of politics to grow up and get real.

Kake Firestone is the Arts & Entertainment Editor for The Voice. She is a junior English major.

Comments

comments

4 COMMENTS

  1. I am one of those people who has been who has been campaigning for Obama since the primary. Even though I have been seen as a “bully” who has been pestering students, I do not regret what I did. President Elect Obama won a historic election and the media has commented that he would not have done it without students campaigning for him and students getting out and voting.

    Unlike this article, I try to think about the positive things about politics and elections. In this country we have the freedom of speech. I, like the “crazy Christians”, had the freedom to assemble on campus. We have a proud history of standing up for what we believe in this country. When people were sick of listening to a king there was a revolution. When women wanted the right to vote they went on hunger strikes and protest marches. During the civil rights movement people of all colors protested and boycotted buses or other establishments. The things these people did to make their voices heard were not pretty and made many uncomfortable. However, no one ever got anything in this country by staying at home and not saying anything.

    Although I don’t want to suggest that what I did can be compared to the civil rights movement, I stood up for a cause I believed in. Obama’s message, as I saw it, was that real change can happen in America if we come together. I believe that is why a record number of BU students voted this election. Over seven hundred more students voted this election in the Kehr Union than in 2004. That is amazing, and all students and volunteers should be celebrating this fact. So before you criticize or say nasty things about others, please stop and think about how fantastic it is that so many students came out and voted on election day despite how they may have felt about campaign tactics.

    I hope that BU students continue to vote while in college and after, celebrate the democracy we enjoy in the United States, and try to think of the positive things that happened this campaign. I also hope students at BU can begin to move on and look at the problems we need to fix as a country in the future, and not when they were bothered while walking to class. Can BU students do that? As Barack would say, “yes we can”!

  2. Woohoo! Yay! It’s fantastic that more people voted this year. More people voted this year because the candidates (or more specifically one candidate) targeted student voters. However some of those who volunteered to campaign to students were the worst possible choices.

    Enthusiasm when campaigning is a must, but being rude is not. In less than two minutes on election day, I watched a volunteer say “Don’t go to class voting is more important,” to one young student, and then turn around and ask another if she was going to vote. When she replied yes, but it would have to be after class, the volunteer started saying “NO NO NO GO NOW!” He began pushing her in the direction of Kehr Union. PHYSICALLY PUSHING HER! That is a blatant violation of personal space.

    Another volunteer began mocking a student when he replied NO to the question of if he was going to vote. Voting is a right and if you choose to exercise that right then good for you. Violating peoples personal space and public dignity are no way to get them to vote.

  3. I believe that most professors and faculty here are liberals.

    I am an Obama supporter myself, but this is a fact. The university is by default a liberal democracy. McCain was hard to be found throughout the campus. Most college students and staff are all liberal, very rarely will anyone find a college professor or student that is republican or conservative. We all are young, and have liberal beliefs. Because we have such a huge influence on who wins the presidency, this is rather important for the election.

    Perhaps it did put me in the aim of Obama – but then again, I wanted Obama not because I saw advertisements here – but because I wanted someone who I believe could make these changes throughout our society. I believe he was the best choice, that is only my opinion though. I know I was not influenced. And some people will be leaning towards him – I mean its obvious he is being promoted all around here – a pledge board that says “I WILL VOTE OBAMA”…..Come on! What about the people who DONT support him. If you don’t support someone, don’t let the university try to influence you. Vote for who you all think is right! Do what you think is the most righteous no matter who says what. However, BloomU was not the only influence in this election. And colleges were always liberal. Bush got into office even with this well-known fact. It has nothing to do with biased political beliefs around campus obviously because we have had Republican presidents – in fact two times in a row! (Bush ran 2 terms). I don’t look at ads – I look at who is best. And I know that John Kerry wouldn’t be the best..haha.

    This comment is opinionated I know, and just like the ads around campus – don’t let it influence or anger you! Do what you know is right in your mind, and everything will be great!

    -Aaron

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