BY DAVE WINICKOFF
If there is one thing I learned from Bush v. Gore, it’s that my vote matters. If we all vote, it doesn’t even matter who wins. Democracy wins. And with that thought firmly in my mind, I approached the wall of personal statements of 1L students running for Law Student Council. “My vote matters,” I said to myself as I began to read.
The statements revealed a common aim, namely “the desire to serve.” There were other common themes. Many described distinguished college political careers in “Student Senate,” sororities or fraternities. I noticed a surprising number of Texans in the group of candidates, though none admitted to using cocaine.
Beyond these commonalities lay a fascinating variety of approaches. Take one that said: “Vote Right, Vote Rita.” Written boldly in red, white and blue, the poster projected an image that was downright presidential.
Then there were the “idea people,” the policy wonks. I’ll admit, the policy minutia sometimes seemed a bit too Gore-ish for my taste. “Online drop/add for 2L year” just didn’t get me fired up. Pure Lockbox. We got burned on that, Lauren. Don’t you remember the debates? To Lauren Charne’s credit, her use of 1970s vintage bubble lettering was brilliant. She also seems to be Chelsea Clinton’s twin, though we’ll see how that one plays.
I was especially impressed with “Rachel.” Like the Senator from New York, she used her first name vernacular to good advantage, and her glossy picture showed a budget that is truly Whitewater-esque. Maybe she and Chelsea should run as a ticket? I also liked Maria Meginnes’ proofreading-is-for-wimps approach. “The creation of the new seven-section structure was part of what attracted me to Harvard Law School’s as a prospective law student,” she began. I like that. Who said you needed grammar to be a politician?
One candidate opted for a bold opening gambit: “If you have been attending class regularly, you will surely recognize me as the girl with rather radical views regarding the ethical and moral responsibilities of lawyers.” I’m just not sure whether her classmates, the ones who attend class regularly, that is, won’t recognize her as the girl who opens her mouth too much.
I’m sorry to say that Veronica Relea lost my vote when she structured her statement in memo format. Next time try power point, Veronica. And B.J. Trach lost a golden political opportunity by failing to point out that “B.J.” rhymes with “T.J.” Doesn’t B.J. realize that HL Central owns this district?
Finally ready to do my part, I approached the voting table in the Hark. But before voting, I was interested in finding out more about how the creation of the new seven-section structure would impact the Law School Council’s power balance. A young man and woman answered all my questions with alacrity.
“Well, last year we had eight reps, two from each 1L section, and four at-large candidates from the 1L class. This year we have two reps from each 1L section,” he explained to me.
“So there are no at-large candidates this year,” I asked.
“That’s right,” he said.
“Doesn’t that discriminate against at-large candidates?” I asked.
Now this was getting interesting. But since class was approaching, I decided should vote before I lost my chance to participate in the election.
“What’s your year?” The nice young woman asked me.
“You don’t vote for 1Ls,” she said.
“Actually, you don’t vote at all,” the guy said. “There are only three people running for office and they’re all elected automatically. There need to be something like nine 3Ls on the council total. The bylaws say so.”
I couldn’t believe it.
“So you’re saying I can’t vote for the 1L elections, and I can’t even vote for the 3L elections?”
“But Taryn Fielder has a poster up that says ‘Vote for Taryn’, and I want to vote for her.”
“You can’t,” he said firmly.
“Can’t I just write in a ballot or something, or nominate some people? You need six more, and I have some good ideas,” I said, my voice becoming a bit desperate.
“I don’t think … look, you can just give suggestions to Mike French.”
I slowly walked away from the table. My vote didn’t matter. That was the message. It just didn’t matter.