In terms of political impact the annual Roy Cloud Elementary School student council election ranks right up there with the New Hampshire primaries. And knowing full well that securing a seat as one of my class’ third grade representatives was a one way ticket to (at the very least) a gubernatorial position in one of our 50 great states, I decided to run.
I launched my campaign inside the cozy confines of Mrs. Scheppler’s third/fourth classroom, announcing to my classmates that I wasn’t just seeking their vote come Election Day, I was starting a revolution!
“We can’t keep standing idly by, as the income inequality in this school continues to spiral out of control! I mean, did you know that the teachers at this school make infinity times more dollars per year than the students?!?”
Cheers emanated from every corner of the room, although it should be noted that my bombast was overshadowed by Mrs. Scheppler’s simultaneous announcement that a party was to take place on Election Day. Cupcakes were thought to be involved.
For my opponents, the campaign trail proved rather straight forward: they simply signed a sheet of paper stating their candidacy and waited two weeks until the vote. (Sad). I, however, realized through some early polling data that I needed to improve my standing with girls who played on the swings at recess—a pivotal portion of the electorate I affectionately referred to as “swing voters.” To win them over, I did what any great politician would do: I made promises, and then I made hats with those promises printed on the front in big, easy-to-read letters.
“This school thinks it can shorten our lunch recess by 10 minutes and get away with it! Well, not on my watch, ladies! Elect me, and we’ll make recess an hour again!”
One of the girls was particularly taken by the free headwear. “Look,” she beamed, “I can put my ponytail through the hole in the back.” “You’re goddamn right you can!” I said. One campaign event and my approval rating was already on the rise!
In the days that followed, I spent most of my time grandstanding in the classroom and glad-handing around the lunch tables. Though a few days before the election, the glad-handing was momentarily derailed, when Michael Verducci reached out with an intriguing proposal from across the aisle (of the cafeteria).
“I’ll give you my vote and this Capri Sun… if you can get them to stop teaching science in the classroom. I hate science, man! It sucks!”
And there it was. The first potential flashpoint of my political career. Verducci’s vote was important; he had lots of sway with the kickball crowd (yet another key demo). But could I compromise my morals for one Maui Punch? And if I did, would the smart kids in my class think I was in the pocket of The Dumb Lobby?
“Sorry, buddy,” I said, holding on for dear life to both my principles and the chocolate milk in my hand, “can’t do it. Some things just aren’t for sale.”
“Okay, fine. My Capri Sun and these Oreos,” he countered.
“I’ll do everything I can,” I said, shaking his hand, “you have my word on that.” (Hey, judge me if you will. But this is politics, man! Everybody has a price!)
When Election Day rolled around, each candidate was given two minutes to present their platform to the class. I found this hardly enough time to stress the importance of family values, narrowing the income gap, and keeping our military strong, while still leaving time to make outrageous promises like more field trips and “free Brownie Fridays” (or the “Brownie Bill” as it was called by my campaign staff). But being the trooper that I am, I rolled with the punches and did what I could in the time allotted. In the scope of political speeches given during the past century, it would probably come in a close second to when Roosevelt said that stuff about “fearing fear” or whatever.
Finally, it came time to vote. Naturally, I checked my own name on the ballot, and just as quickly, I also voted for the girl I’d held an inescapable crush on for the better part of that year: Liz Dalrymple. The way I saw it, there was no better aphrodisiac than the potential for a sordid political affair between student council representatives.
After a short time, the votes were tallied and Mrs. Scheppler announced that we would need to hold a runoff, as five kids had tied for the two seats available. It seemed that under school code 31-L, only those tied in the election were able to cast runoff ballots. So, in the fifteen minutes before the vote, I did what came naturally: I lied and cheated my way to assure victory. I told each one of my opponents that I’d vote for them if they’d vote for me, knowing full well that the only non-Maloney getting a vote from me wore Guess sweatshirts and had a beautiful, braces-laden smile. #ImWithHer
But the ploy backfired, and Liz was instead joined on the winning ticket by my hated rival (and known Liz-crush), Nick Nardini. I did everything I could to stop it. I called for a recount. I filibustered like a madman. I even questioned Nardini’s birth certificate (I mean, since when do third graders have biceps?) But in the end, each and every one of my appeals were denied.
“I’m sorry, Michael,” Mrs. Scheppler said, “this is a democracy, and I’m afraid that the people have spoken.”
And so, that was that. Just as quickly as it had started, my time in politics was over. I was left to toil away in obscurity; and worse, I had to watch Nick and Liz become the student council’s unquestioned “power couple”. Not only that, Michael Verducci made me pay him back for the Capri Sun and the Oreos he’d tried to buy my influence with. In short, it turned out to be the worst year of my life. Thanks, Obama!