Divided, The GDIs Fell
I knew it back in December, although I was optimistic of at least a runoff. I knew that, barring a deal between McShera and Dictor, that both would lose and wipe each other’s Senate slates out as well.
And look what happened – Progress carried Graduate Senators and the Fine Arts seat, and both sides lost everything else. Unite might not have united the campus, but it sure as hell lucked out in this election.
Now, I’m not going to get into the Duque-like celebration or depression of the results, as sad as I am to see someone like Molly Flynn lose despite her valiant attempt to engage the satellite campuses. Instead, I think a post-mortum discussion should begin with an eye for salvaging the movement for the next election.
Every Student Body President in the last two decades has been a Key. No true GDI has won. The two non-FBK wins (1992 and 2004) came with a popular Key rebelling against the group’s endorsed candidate. As much as we’d like to win on our own, and on our terms, it just hasn’t happened. So don’t be afraid to working a popular rebel Key, if he or she comes along.
No GDI victory can ever happen if the movement remains divided. Blind ambition fueled by ego is misplaced in any GDI party – if none of the 20 independent parties before you have accomplished it, don’t think you can split the movement and still have what it takes to even come close to winning.
Expanding the GDI voting coalition is essential. O&B in 2008 was too skewed toward Sophomore and LS and was weak everywhere else. Progress in 2009 was too skewed toward left-wing activists and graduate students. Whatever happens by fall, these two voting coalitions need to be merged and expanded. Engagement with more of the umbrella groups – IRHA, BOCC, VISA, etc. – can help at least build ground in the non-SG activist sector.
An opposition party that acts like it. Keep up the watchdog activities, don’t be afraid to push your agenda priorities (like turning SG salaries into a scholarship fund), and be ready to face a Unite Party that won’t be uniting with you in the Chamber any longer. And if the System lies in public, shameless fire back with a “don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining” type of line.
Be innovative and stay in touch. There is nothing in the 700 codes that bans lobbying or campaign-style communications. So maintain a website or a Facebook group. Be sure your supporters know what you’re up to. Don’t let SG slip back into the mundane – “stir shit up” as a friend of mine would often say.
There is a lot that has to be done by fall, for those in the movement that will still be on campus at that point. I think first and foremost, the two GDI camps need to get back together – not a marriage, but a merger. Maybe even a new name that reflects the newly reunited group.
I’d vote for “Reform Party”, as that is what the independent movement at UF has always been about.