It’s election season on Marshall’s campus, with the student government race for president and vice president taking place today and tomorrow. Yesterday’s debate between teams Hunter Barclay and Hannah Petracca, Jeremiah Parlock and Rachel Delaney, Marcus Tucker and Noelle Soares, and Madison Davis and Maddy Parker involved pointed questions, thoughtful answers and passionate rebuttals.
As the teams were directly asked questions regarding issues such as social discourse, perception of Greek life, tuition increases and their respective platforms, we noticed how rare it is for clear, feasible and workable solutions to problems to be proposed in campaigns of any kind.
This reminds us that election season is also nearing in the larger political climate. Primary elections will take place in just a couple months, and West Virginians must choose their congressional senators and representatives.
The issue of generalizations without pragmatic plans is not specific to these student candidates. In fact, the candidates for student body president and vice president did a better job of providing tangible solutions than we are used to seeing among politicians.
Current Democratic senator and former governor Joe Manchin has given his fair share of broad ideas lacking detail. His campaign website vaguely describes plans to fight the state’s opioid epidemic. His campaign website reads, “Senator Manchin has been on the front lines of confronting the drug epidemic and is working with both sides of the aisle to help address this crisis from every angle from prevention to helping those struggling with addiction get clean. Joe wants to bring everyone to the table to help curb the overflow of prescription pain medication coming into West Virginia.” Who is everyone? What are the angles being analyzed? This plan sounds nice to someone who glosses over it, but actually includes no details.
For example, Republican Evan Jenkins, current U.S. representative and candidate for U.S. Senate claims on his campaign website, “Evan firmly believes that ‘a good job solves a lot of problems’ – and that getting people back to work is critical to ending the opioid crisis that has destroyed too many lives.” While that is a fine sentiment, it provides no practical solutions.
In running for Senate, Jenkins is leaving his current seat in the House of Representatives open. Richard Ojeda, dubbed by The New Republic as “A new kind of Democrat,” hopes to take his place. However, he too neglects to give specific and workable solutions in his campaign platform. In the section on his website titled “Fiscally Responsible,” Ojeda writes, “By targeting fraud, waste and abuse and bringing costs down in programs that are over budget, I believe that we can be more fiscally responsible without harming those who are most vulnerable.” In this section, Ojeda neglects to answer a vital question: how? He does not say which programs are over budget, or how he is going to cut these costs. What fraud is he referring to? What waste? Abuse? It is the answers to these questions that matter– the answers we do not have.
For all these candidates, plans are not plans. They are carefully crafted sentences that give the impression of passion but are really nothing but fluff. Plans aren’t always exciting or sexy, but plans work. Maybe the reason voters– both on campus and in the state– are so apathetic about elections is because, deep down, they know candidates’ campaigns are not meant to do anything but sell us. We are not able to analyze candidates accurately, because we can’t see any details. If politicians spent the same amount of effort meticulously researching and planning for solutions that will work for their constituents as they spend finding the right phrases to sell themselves, we would have more voter representation and more practical solutions in our campus, state and nation.