If you didn’t catch the Movement party’s debut video, you need to watch it to make an informed vote in the Central Student Government elections. Facebook users have been all over Movement’s video, which amassed 44,000 views and more than 200 shares as of March 21. Naturally, polarization quickly ensued between Movement’s fandom and those calling the party out for its problematic campaign. Though polarization can be harmful, it’s important to recognize the need for hard-line stances when issues like populism are on the come-up. To be clear, the issues with Movement’s campaign aren’t about political leanings and policies, but with the sheer implementation of the same practices that we saw in President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

If you need one singular piece of evidence showing the similarities between Movement’s presidential nominee Evan Rosen and President Trump, here it is: “I don’t think they’re hearing this, I can rock the mike with no CSG experience.” Rosen thinks it’s cool or appealing to run for office without being experienced, but the crucial lesson to learn from the first few months of President Trump’s presidency is that being unqualified isn’t the best kind of qualification. Being cool doesn’t mean you’re good at understanding policy and representation. Just ask the “Trump Regretters” who wish they hadn’t elected the star of “The Apprentice” to the highest office.

Glancing through Movement’s Facebook album, “Meet the Squad,” anyone can see the next problem with the party. Out of 22 featured squad members, which I guess are candidates, 14 are white males. Out of the eight non-white males in the Squad, five are white females, three are men of color and zero are women of color. The lack of diversity among the party members, some of whom have titles such as “Official DJ” and “Illuminati Relations Chair,” is a strong indicator that Movement cannot represent the student body. What’s worse is that the party’s platform, which identifies that we need to “Ensure our campus is a welcoming community for all,” is hypocritical when compared to their candidates.

Further damaging to the party’s claims of diversity and inclusion is the fact that the only women featured in Movement’s entrancing music video fawned over the wannabe CSG president. As if the lack of women representation among the candidates — especially women of color — wasn’t bad enough, Movement’s video objectifies women in a way that is eerily nostalgic of President Trump. This kind of objectification does not belong in office and does not deserve the vote of fair-minded students. Instead, we should be championing underrepresented leaders on campus to work toward positive change.

Shortly after the recent CSG debate, hosted by The Michigan Daily, candidate Rosen answered a few questions that the Editorial Board had about the party’s lack of diversity. He responded by saying that although he tried to reach out to as many people as possible to recruit for his party, those who responded were largely homogeneous. Despite this homogeneity, he vowed to increase diversity through the assembly and cabinet. Rosen hypocritically thinks that his inability to form a diverse party before the elections will magically be reversed once in office.

Don’t get me wrong. I would never argue that someone’s demographics demonstrate their capabilities. Nor do I think anyone in Movement has anything but the best of intentions. However, when attempting to represent students, many of whom feel unsafe, it’s necessary to have a mix of diversity and allyship. When students called out Movement’s music video for female objectification and Black culture appropriation, Rosen’s initial responses were dismissive and deplorable. “We just made a rap,” he said, completely ignoring the concerns raised by a University alum. When challenged for obnoxiously claiming to be the “white George Washington Carver,” his response was, “I’m an innovator.” Even when opportunities to be an ally are handed to Rosen, he dismisses the very real concerns of those whom he wants to represent, and fails to be an effective ally. Although Rosen issued an official apology on March 21, Facebook users felt the display of regret was too little, too late.

If you don’t think the lack of representation and dismissive attitudes toward marginalized students are crippling enough to the party’s race to the Michigan Union, how about Movement’s blatant populism? As the refrain of Rosen’s music video, the line “Give the campus back to the kids, they could use it,” deserves some attention. Language is a funny thing in that you can refer to something without explicitly saying so. When President Trump’s campaign promised to “Make America Great Again,” it evoked a reference to a previous time when the nation was great.

Similarly, when Rosen preaches about giving the campus back to the kids, he is implicitly saying that students don’t have the campus in the first place. This appeal to the masses of ordinary “kids” who are supposedly unrepresented and voiceless should be a classic, unproblematic campaign move if the party were representative. But when said “kids” exclude marginalized and truly underrepresented students, it reminds me less of a campaign move and more of a populist strategy appealing to only one population: non-marginalized students. The Economist recently defined populism as a non-ideological framework that pits the population against the corrupt establishment. This call by Movement is subtle, but once examined, is reminiscent of President Trump’s calls for swamp-draining and great-making.

But when it comes down to the ballot, there’s one singular reason why Rosen’s Movement party shouldn’t be elected: It appears that he thinks he alone can help the University. In his op-ed for The Michigan Daily, Rosen wrote, “I created the Movement because I want to go to a university that lives up to its name, and because I see a potential for this school that I don’t think anyone else does.” Most readers should be pausing at this point, thinking about where they’ve heard this exact same rhetoric. If they need a clue, visit whitehouse.gov. Two years ago, then-officeless Donald Trump said at the onset of his campaign, “I am the only one who can make America truly great again!” Even in his Republican National Convention speech, President Trump exclaimed with full hubris, “I alone can fix it.” The go-it-alone mentality is not endearing or appealing. It has the potential to perpetuate campus issues.

Clearly the complications with Movement’s campaign are problematic in many different regards. On March 22 and 23, remember the problematic nature of Movement’s campaign, which has the potential to do more harm than good, when electing your next CSG president. Be sure to vote eMerge at http://vote.umich.edu.

Ibrahim Ijaz can be reached at iijaz@umich.edu.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.