Being that he doesn't actually intend to win the election, one might think that Jeremy Zhao's Students' Union presidential campaign is entirely superfluous, but that is not entirely correct. Though there is a strong possibility that he would resign during his acceptance speech next Thursday in the Den, Zhao's campaign is actually quite beneficial for this university's student politics.
The confidence with which I can predict that voter turnout will be somewhere south of 20 per cent is the first clear indicator that it is worthwhile to have someone mix things up in the SU election. Zhao's candidacy, bringing as it does rambunctious flair to an otherwise all-too-serious exercise, certainly cannot harm this aspect. For this reason alone, Zhao's campaign is beneficial. Yet, this may not actually be the most important aspect of his mocking run.
In similar fashion to Stephen Colbert's brief turn in American Presidential politics, Zhao's campaign is meant to bring searching critique to the other candidates by making his own run as ridiculous as possible.
In order to point out how ludicrous many campaign promises are (Zhao notes that most look good on paper, but can't possibly be brought into effect), Zhao has pledged only to change a single light bulb from a regular to a low energy one if elected. He did note, however, that he would make a very big deal out of this.
At this level of politics, one of the most poignant criticisms is that it takes itself far too seriously. Zhao expressed the opinion that many individuals vying for SU positions probably expend more effort placing posters around the campus than they do performing their jobs for the remainder of the year. This is, of course, politics, and probably doesn't differ too much from how many politicians conduct themselves at every level of the game, but it remains important to keep in mind that even though getting elected is a hard task that will require lots of energy, once it becomes the primary goal of any politician, there is no longer any reason that they will be an effective representative. Some may point out that it is no surprise that politicians in a democratic system will behave this way, but that doesn't mean that it should be striven for.
With all his antics directing attention to what is wrong with the SU and its electoral system, however, Zhao is not devoid of constructive ideas of his own. Instead of pursuing tuition consultation with all the hopeless fervour of a wildebeest in the jaws of a crocodile, he argues that the money directed towards that lost cause should go to buying more microwaves for Mac Hall. This type of idea, which seems likely to benefit students far more than cravenly militating against tuition increases year after year, is something that should give pause for thought to other members of the SU.
Though it remains unclear whether Zhao would have time to change that light bulb before resigning, it will certainly be easy to vote for him-- the ballot will display his full name: Jeremy "Erotinine Sur Subfulgently Reemanating Outhyperbolize-Superseraphic Procivillian Phlogeotic Harkee Aneuch Hotcha-Voetsek Hwt Eriodictyonstanhopea Ayrshire-Ph.D-MD-MBA-Men's Studies-LL.D.-Sir-Honourable-Esquire-the-IV-the-terrible" Zhao.