The Arizona Desert Lamp

ASUA Elections: Now more repressive than Turkmenistan!

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 14 February 2009

Turkmenistan Coat of ArmsFun Turkmenistan facts: the capital city’s name, Ashgabat, roughly translates to ‘the city that love built’ (Hippies, take note!); the nation’s official website declares that the country is in a ‘golden age’ (Civ geek alert!); and the current president, Gurbanguly Mälikgulyýewiç Berdimuhammedow (say that five times fast), was a licensed dentist.

The country is also one of the most repressive in the world, and routinely ranks near the bottom of Freedom House’s ‘Freedom in the World‘ listings. Yet Turkmenistan has made progress towards some formerly lacking civil liberties:

The Central Asian state of Turkmenistan has adopted a new constitution that supporters say will promote multi-party politics and the market economy.

The measure was passed unanimously by the People’s Council, a group of 2,500 tribal elders and local lawmakers.

The Council will be abolished and parliament will almost double in size after elections in December.

. . .

It paves the way for the formation of multiple political parties in a country that currently only has one – the Democratic Party headed by the president.

Meanwhile, ASUA is the least representative government in the Pac-10 and effectively bans political parties:

8-1.01 Only one candidate’s name may appear on any piece of campaign material as defined by this Code.

Griping about the past sins of party politics is a poor excuse — the vagaries of party politics are a natural formation of a free society, a fact that James Madison spelled out in Federalist #10:

Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency.

There’s also this little thing called the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It’s pretty bizarre to sit in a candidates meeting in an ostensibly free republic and hear that, “Any campaign material must be approved beforehand by the Elections Commission.” It’s crazy to listen to Commissioner (Commisar?) Ho describe how you have to record the use of staples that you already own in your campaign expense report as “non-purchased goods”; to hear him calmly describe that engaging in any sort of direct negative campaiging will result in sanctions from the Commission; to endure a ten-minute description of how to create Facebook groups that fit within the Code’s paramaters. Of course, Commissioner Ho has no time for your silly defenses of liberty and basic civic principles. Besides, ASUA’s not a democracy; it’s a cheerocracy, so suck it up.

At the very least, you would expect such a powerful Elections Commission, with its newly beefed-up workforce, to be prompt and effecient in their mandating. Yet as of 3:55 PM, the Commission’s site has yet to publish a full list of candidates.

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10 Responses

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  1. Alla said, on 14 February 2009 at 8:51 pm

    lolz. Cheerocracies FTW!

  2. Jimi Alexander said, on 14 February 2009 at 10:43 pm

    So I take it you /were/ at the meeting. I’m a campaign manager for one of the Senate candidates. I won’t disclose which one (yet).

    Commissioner Kenny’s policies are absurd. I knew the guy had an ego the size of Turkmenistan, and having a seven-man entourage didn’t help my opinion of the guy. Seriously, a school election involving 30-some candidates does not need eight arbiters, and there was no need for all of them to be in that already-cramped meeting hall when six of them weren’t doing anything but standing around.

    • Connor Mendenhall said, on 15 February 2009 at 4:45 am

      I knew Türkmenbaşi, Leader of All Türkmen. Türkmenbaşi, Leader of All Türkmen was a friend of mine. The ASUA electıons commission is no Türkmenbaşi, Leader of All Türkmen. They haven’t renamed the month of January in their own honor or built a golden monument to themselves that rotates to face the sun. Plenty crazy left before they can put Turkmenistan to shame.

  3. Emily said, on 15 February 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Now hold on a minute…. This repressiveness is a statement on the elections code of ASUA in general, not necessarily the commissioner. Since I know Kenny Ho on a personal level, I can attest that he does not have “an ego the size of Turkmenistan,” and I think that it is unfair to make such a strong personal statement.

  4. […] set by whomever the Elections Commissioner happens to be at the time. (As a clarifying note to a previous post, I only have an animus against Mr. Ho insofar as he abets the current elections […]

  5. […] just about every sense of the word, campaigning. (By the way, whatever happened to the whole ‘one candidate per campaign material‘ rule? Looks like the third violation is on its […]

  6. […] just about every sense of the word, campaigning. (By the way, whatever happened to the whole ‘one candidate per campaign material‘ rule? Looks like the third violation is on its […]

  7. […] on the part of interested gamblers. But it’s not like we’re dealing with free elections anyways; we might as well have a little fun in the […]

  8. […] regulations were written in Bizarro World, I did so half in jest. But as the tragicomic reign of elections commissioner Kenny Ho draws to a close, it feels more and more like the procedures of student […]

  9. […] time, it’s hard not to see the karma police lurking behind the curtains. Given ASUA’s tendency against basic Constitutional freedoms, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a similar move made […]


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