Everyone’s a critic these days, and for good reason. With reams of information at our fingertips, it has never been easier to criticise and fact-check what people are saying. Criticism is a necessary part of society and an important aspect to remember when it comes to those running for positions of power.
People put themselves forward for positions of power and authority, however small the role may be. Although they likely care about a cause, the welfare of their constituents or a movement, power remains a key part of the position and motivation.
Most people have no problem criticising politicians because they usually don’t know them or can distance themselves enough to keep a level head about their policies. In the world of student politics, however, this can prove difficult.
People usually canvas for friends they have known for several years. They feel very confident in their ability as a friend and potential leader. Somebody can be a truly lovely, kind-hearted person, but a terrible politician with problematic policies worthy of criticism. Many politicians have partners, children and lifelong friends. Are they exempt from criticism?
More criticism of SU candidates and officers should be vocalised about their proposals and how suited they are to the roles. If we all sit back and regard candidates as just students trying to do their best, however true this may be, a popularity contest can instead prevail.
The wrong type of criticism can be made, aimed at something entirely unrelated to somebody’s political career or aims. For example, when the video of American Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez dancing in college went viral, some critics said it was unprofessional. Although she was mostly met with support, this criticism should never have been drawn as the video had nothing to do with her politics.
Similarly, in the world of student politics, somebody’s personal history should never be brought to the criticism unless it pertains to the role they are trying to fill.
Any personal attacks about a candidates’ personality or appearance should also be left out of the conversation. Much like protests held outside TDs’ houses, telling someone they are a horrible person on Twitter is not a fair part of any election process.
For anybody to argue that these people shouldn’t be criticised out of niceness is ridiculous. Criticism is an essential part of the democratic process.
If a student criticises a candidate for their manifesto, plans for the role or their suitability for the position, how is this unfair? It is not the same as a student complaining about their classmate, candidates put themselves forward into the eyes of the student body. They are voluntarily running for a position of authority and power, usually alongside other students competing for the same role.
It would be strident for us all to be a bit more critical of those running for positions of power. Don’t let niceties get in the way of our democratic process, whether for the Students’ Union or the Dáil.
Image credit: Jonny Matthew