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Saturday, May 14, 2005
Election Fallout, Part II
The Death of CalSERVE As We Know It
Now, to talk politics. This is where it gets interesting, because…
… at this point, Student Action stands alone as the only “super-party” on campus. Think of it not as Student Action vs. CalSERVE, but Student Action vs. everyone else. Here is why CalSERVE, in its current configuration, will not win the seats it needs to succeed.
1. The party has not had any unified success since SA’s conception in 1996. The stress is on “unified”. The Primm regime (2003-04) greatly divided the party, and bringing in an outsider like him was clearly a last gasp by a party quickly coming to grips with a changing reality. Even Liz Hall’s victory last year was closer than it should have been, and in retrospect, CalSERVE might have been lucky to even pull that one off.
2. As a result, the party is completely divided and fractionalized beyond any hope of simple repair. CalSERVE, by failing to elect an executive everyone can rally behind, has proven its inadequacy to its constituent bases, which have turned to more radical measures outside of the ASUC and infighting within the party. This has led to a wave of compromises and a group of very moderate candidates who have left party supporters unmotivated. This year’s CalSERVE senators are extremely moderate, with many leaning closer to libertarian than progressive. Additionally, the party has no "Bret Manley"-like figure: a signatory who can guide the party and hold it together when it needs to stay strong. This year's decisions were made by the consensus of elected officials. The party is lacking heart, clearly established leaders, and experience.
3. The party’s existing structure does not lend it to success at the polls or at the reins of the Association. The party has not had electoral success because, as Kevin mentioned in an earlier comment, its candidate recruitment process has become overly exclusive, leaving a much smaller pool of base and swing votes to count on. Additionally, Student Action has constantly outperformed CalSERVE’s campaign strategy of focusing on bases, rather than a mass audience. Finally, CalSERVE’s platform is more appealing to student groups who are eager to take on the challenges they present, not for the ASUC in its current form and its voters.
Expect major reforms this year from CalSERVE, from party participation to platform issues to color schemes. If its new leaders are smart, they’ll repackage this organization and try to save it. Many of the new leaders seem energized and prepared for a major renovation to the party. Also, this is not an attack on CalSERVE: this is an honest outsider’s criticism to the recent failings of the party.
One last part of this post to come later tonight.Email This Post!
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