The Chaos Theory of SG
The Spring 2006 election has been, unofficially, the longest-running campaign in recent memory, as both candidates and the sides they’d run on have been known since nearly the end of the last election. But officially speaking, this election is the latest-starting Spring campaign, and the latest-starting SG campaign at all since the Fall 2001 election, where my Voice party got started on a Tuesday with slating on a Friday. Although the actual dynamics of the race have been altered this late in the game this dramatically since SUN in 2000 (more on that later).
As I blog this, there is uncertainty as to who is backing whom, and what the top of the ticket will look like for the Unite party. And the clock is ticking on those petitions. What we do know is that all of the other parties are now out; it’s truly been narrowed to just SWAMP, Unite, and those running without a party name. And if my sources are correct, then MVP may have folded into Unite in order to get an athlete on the ticket. But through this chaotic process, Unite may have also gained more Greek support than it had to begin with.
This, needless to say, is not a good development for John Boyles and the SWAMP Party. But the former SHO President has that organization, along with IHRA, a strong majority of Greeks, and the support of many in the Black Student Union. That is not a bad start to a winning coalition.
The chaos of this weekend is not unheard of – Impact losts a member of its executive ticket at the last minute, Access was not without its problems, Nikki Fried didn’t secure a winning coalition until she picked Voice party Senator and Engineer Joel Howell for VP, and the SUN didn’t have the support it needed in fall 2000 or spring 2001 until the last moment.
SUN in Fall 2000 did better than any other opposition party in recent history, winning 13 seats out of 40 in a fall election. They were the first to carry District (taking 9 of 12 seats), and repeated a historic strength by winning 4 of 6 in District C. They also came extremely close (within a handful of votes) of winning seats in District A and on campus. Some of us would like to think that the reason we came so close to winning was the controversy over Senate Bill 2000-1066, the bill that ended BOCC’s financial autonomy and first created the Academic Organizational budget.
(Piece of trivia: I was talking with Treasurer Ana Maria Garcia about the controversy and suggested the smartest, safest way to do what she wanted was to revise the bill to create the the Academic Organizational budget. It might also make BOCC feel safer about not having to compete with social groups for funding. I was an Independent Senator then, but the controversy got me involved in BOCC and I was still lead to the conclusion that the change was unneeded, and joined many others in voting against.)
The real reason SUN did so well is because of our Greek support. SUN carried over most of the supporters of the Florida Students Party, the Vision 2000 party, and some previously uninvolved students from college councils who felt the need to get involved in the wake of 1066. But with the help of Nikki Fried and Eric Berger, a number of additional organizations and Greek houses came on board.
(I give Eric Berger, a Senator and judiciary chair when I first joined Senate as an independent, credit for bringing me into the party because even though many of my “Independent” allies from Vision and other efforts were in SUN, I did not abandon an non-party run in Tolbert until he urged me to slate with them.)
The reason I recount this history is because the Greeks that backed FSP and were staying on with SUN had, just before the first day of slating, all pulled out of the organization and went to the Impact party (then a Greek/FBK party) to make a deal. The first day of slating SUN looked much like Vision and other independent groups, a little disorganized, a little small, a little rebel-with-a-cause. When the Greek reunification deal fell through over the weekend, the Greeks came roaring back to SUN, with the now-expected help of Nikki Fried and Eric Berger.
And the rest of history. SUN loses Fall 2000 but does extremely well. In Spring 2001, Nikki Fried runs for Chancellor and beats the incumbent 55%-45% while SUN loses to Marc Adler’s Fusion party by less than 17 votes. A year later, Chancellor Fried runs for President with Ignite, defeating Chris Carmody’s SWAMP party by about 51-46%.
It’s interesting that, in the Unite/Swamp race of 2006 that there are so many similarities to elections that Marc Adler, Chris Carmody, and Nikki Fried participated in during 2000-2002. It certainly seems chatoic to most of you currently there, and certainly adds a level of intrigue not seen for a while.
But as in the chaos theory itself, the chaos of SG, seemingly without a rhyme, reason, or pattern to its developments, does certainly have an order and a pattern to it, if you’re willing to step outside of the box and look at things in their proper historic context.
Especially when it comes to dealing with elections that involve some of the same people.