Kim Beazley, I salute you.
I am beginning to regret sniggering at a rejected and dejected Kim Beazley back in 2004 in an arrogant disregard of the rule about not kicking ‘em when they’re down. He might come from Perth with a voice almost as vexatious as the ideas it articulates, but as I lick my wounds following the university election season, I have a new found respect for the big guy and his chronicle of losses. The close of the polling booths of the Sydney Uni Law Society election - i.e. the campaign that forces itself upon the facebook home pages of engineering students, social work students, Brisbane University students, and your Zumba instructor alike, despite the fact that only law students can vote - marks for me the end of one, long, drawn-out losing streak.
There’s a lot at stake during a university campaign; sleep-ins, egos, uni marks, friendships, fashion sense, sanity. And yet our generation gets on board year after year. Of course, at the height of a campaign, there’s nothing you’d rather do than wake up at 5 am to cover your campus in posters which will probably end up in the bin by lunchtime the same day. Once you’ve lost, however, it’s difficult to find meaning in all those Saturday nights spent mixing chalk. And the red mark on your forehead from that time about seven hours into election day when you decided the “I voted STRIKE” stickers were meant for your face is a cruel reminder of your failure that takes a few days to fade. How KBeaz dealt with getting beat on a national scale not once but twice, had his weight problem rubbed in his face with daily news features of his vanquisher on morning jogs around Kirribili, and then still put his hand up for more I’ll never know.
By engaging in a university campaign, you’re taking a significant social risk. I didn’t realise I was capable of inspiring cold-blooded fear in the hearts of my friends and acquaintances until I crossed the law school foyer on election day gripping a wad of campaign flyers. Of course, ostracism did have its advantages: the line for Taste Baguette was always much more bearable after we cleared the room with our campaign T-shirts. And to be fair, I have gained 15 new facebook friends from amongst my ticket (hopefully enough to make up for the plunge that occurred the day my profile pic was changed to a campaign logo).
Perhaps the most depressing part of the whole ordeal is realising that this thing you’ve poured your heart and soul into, nobody else could really give a crap about. From the epicentre of a campaign, the lack of water coolers in the library seems like a more pressing issue than global warming and the world hunger crisis combined. When you emerge from the campaign cocoon, you’re left with a multitude of baffling questions; why doesn’t the uneven tiling outside room 104 get anybody else’s blood boiling!? Why don’t you people care about the calendar clash between the competitions grand final and interfaculty sports!? But your questions fall on ears deafened by the speakers of last night’s SubSki event, rubbing in the fact that the only thing that really gets anybody worked-up on campus is the socials agenda.
One thing Kim Beazley could have improved upon was his ability to see the positives in a situation. His description of his role in the Labour party as “Lazarus with a triple bypass” doesn’t exactly smack of someone on the lookout for a silver lining. But unlike Beaz, I don’t see my election experience as entirely negative; flyering on Eastern Avenue, trying to block my opponents from reaching the next potential voter before I got to them was excellent training for the netball season. And with a wardrobe bursting with campaign T-shirts, I never have to buy pajamas again.