Set loose on the campaign trail

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By Eyeopener Staff

Well as for me…

It all started at Reilly’s, a rotten dive that leans over Yonge Street like a gibbering soft-head trying to cop a feel off the goats at the petting zoo.

It was a high night and the hog was in the tunnel. We felt bad, crazy and full of Blue and danger. It was time for the annual chamber pot shuffle, the grand sham. What if someone threw an election and no one came? RyeSAC was fielding its usual clutch of grinning yobs, and we were stuck trying to find a way to interest a single soul out there in the charade that has become the student body’s annual kick at democracy’s can.

My memory of the conversation prisms as if staring into the light while tears from a crotch-clubbing, madly distorted reality. Someone said “A gerbil could beat these fools, I would vote for a gerbil…” and we had it. The grandest scheme, a journey into the heart of the Canadian dream. Democracy isn’t your stuffy aunt with blue hair, it’s a cracked teenager with sphincter piercings and freshly scabbed-over gang tats. We all agreed, fuck freak power, we’ll run a rodent, our very own Scoop Gerbil, on the ticket for president. Give democracy a kick in the jollies and wrestle that bastard into the ground, then count who showed up.

Let’s get to it, the shiny brass tacks of the thing. We had no burning desire to cover this fool election in the same fool way. There is destiny in politics, another word for bland inertia. No chance for an upset, no one cares one way or the other. So we chose the third option.

It was a start, but we needed a patsy, a mule to flog on this trip. Norman Pinder was ex parte to this whole plan, aside from loaning us his student number and good name. We rode both all the way to the bottom of the compost pile, but our confederacy urged us on, they took up the chant: Scoop, Scoop, Scoop. We might have quailed at the audacity in the bright light of the day — we were newsmen, not gerrymanderers. We pointed out the leaks and he twists, we didn’t create our own. It had to be done a certain way. Another way was found to build the campaign, run it separately without our influence but under our aegis.

Our campaign gargoyle, a foul man with a disturbing hatred of authority, churned our posters as meaningless and messageless as he could, and still was trumped by the competition. Could they seriously be more banal, more baseless than a rat-mouse whose major slogan was: “Will say anything to win?” Could the grunting public actually be lured into the van by the trenchcoat-wearing, sugary-sweets-bearing grim spectre of electoral humiliation? We weren’t sure, no one had ever tried. We felt huge in our boldness, a chest-thumping, bone-crushing, breathtaking urge to hurl the election into the void of the unknown. “Let us know,” we screamed at the crowds, “tell us if you care at all?

No scampering now, we were a force… Who was the Gerbil? Who did we want him to be? What is his favourite song? We bought a Gerbil, named him Scoop W. and fended off whackos and bent mamas who wanted to touch him, feel him, make him wrong. Camera crews came in every day to see the goddamn Gerbil, dewy-eyed young things trying to act serious while they filled their obligations to classes — is there any further proof needed that the reputation of journalism at this blowhard university is a giant white elephant? Dr. Claude weighed in proclaiming his support if the Gerbil would endorse potato sandwiches in the cafeteria. That sent us into a tailspin. How the fuck do you make a potato sandwich, would the Gerbil die if he ate one, and did El Presidente’s endorsement amount to a hill of poutine?

We backed away from pitching the thing on a national level. Talk about news releases to the big organs and using inside contacts to get our item on the sked was pale, and nervous and doomed to inaction.

I would awake in a delirium, my soul shrieking with fury at the big lie, the gross assumption. How were we wrecking the election with our Gerbil? The process had to have fallen off a truck if there was a single smiler who felt threatened by a Gerbil.

I can see them now, walking the streets, placard in one hand, bullhorn in the other, looking for a protest, the slush invading their shoes like Serbians into Kosovo. Worry lines appear on previously untroubled brows… the certainty of absolutist positions slips, reasserts, and falls right off. The panic, the fear, dare I say it? The Loathing. A Gerbil could deny me my place in the sun? It cannot be borne.

It wasn’t though. The gargoyle called it — 10 per cent he said, no more. Well, when 1,200 people vote, then 130 or so votes is a few points over 10 per cent. It’s enough for matching funds in an American election, but not enough to get more than 30 bucks worth of our expenses back under RyeSAC’s election rules. Syphilitic screaming aside, you goggling cheats reasserted your fundamental intransigence. Aside from the crazed few who voted Gerbil on faith, the vote was split between the wee heckler and the long tall drink of water. Did our Gerbil Nader poor Mr. Rob Haines? Unlikely, because our supporters were voting for the most bare-assed expression of anarchy on the ticket. They wouldn’t have voted at all if not for the Gerbil. The election party was a crapout, the ballot-counting so swift as to slaughter any attempt at suspense. It was over and done with, and we felt like the business side of a rhino-sized condom.

We disqualified ourselves — didn’t submit an expense report. Booted out of the election. The fever was too high. We were afraid of our own machine… What had we unleashed? What if it won? How would we handle it? We settled for the pure academia of the numbers. We never wanted the power, just the knowledge of whether or not you hairless apes thought this election was a joke before we ever thought of running a Gerbil. A 10 per cent voter turnout, about a hundred or so more than last time — 10 per cent for a shameless rodent, about a hundred or so votes. We’re not sure whether to laugh or puke.


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