Negative campaigning has been a hallmark of political races throughout history, with some of the most well-documented cases coming from various American presidential elections. Colloquially referred to as “mudslinging,” negative campaigning involves emphasizing your opponents’ negative characteristics and weaknesses, rather than focusing on your own positives and the serious issues at hand. In its worst form, negative campaigning can involve character defamation, slandering and even at times racially primed political rhetoric — just ask Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and John Quincy Adams.
In less than two weeks, students will cast their votes in the most hotly contested and competitive election in the recent history of the Central Student Government at the University of Michigan. With so many stakeholders and candidates, it’s easy for a few to forget the values of integrity and fair play, and indulge in mudslinging to gain political dividends.
As the only independent candidates contesting the CSG presidency and vice presidency, we, Manish Parikh and Omar Hashwi, pledge we will not engage in mudslinging — we will focus on the issues at hand. On our part we will champion issues that the students truly care about: A 24-hour café, calendar reform, more concerts on campus and greater engagement through social media. Most importantly we will fight for what the students truly want.
But in pursuing this fight, and a victory, far from criticizing and condemning our opponents, we salute them all. We had the pleasure of interacting with each of them yesterday, and would like to take this opportunity to praise rather than criticize them:
To the Defend Affirmative Action Party, we salute that you have made one single issue the focus of your political party. It’s commendable that you have always remained true to this issue, and that each of you are contesting this election because of a belief in this issue, rather than political power.
To Shreya Singh, and YouMich: we had the pleasure of making your acquaintance and were humbled by your kindness and warmth. The fact that you have involved so many minorities in your party is commendable.
To our friends at the Students For Puppies party, we can only say that we all love puppies, that it would be great to have more puppies on campus and that love for puppies and other animals, with a disdain for cruelty to all animals, is a noble cause – we hope you will champion the latter.
To MForward, and Aditya Sathi, I congratulate you on winning the presidential nomination of MForward — no easy feat — and the various issues you have tried solving over the past few years.
Finally, to the newly formed OurMichigan party, the cause you support, the Coalition for Tuition Equality, is a noble one; we commend you for championing the rights of the less fortunate in society.
Which leaves us with… us. We sincerely hope that you, the students, will give us your vote come election day. Manish Parikh and Omar Hashwi will not wear suits and ties — this is not the U.S. presidential election — we will not make tall and empty promises, we will not work for our résumés and we will not put any one before our students.
We are running as independents, because we are not and never will be politicians. Manish wants to become a social entrepreneur someday, and Omar wants to become a doctor and save lives. Simply put, we’re candidates who like to focus on the issues outlined in our platform rather than the skeletons in our opponents’ closets.
We hope that our opponents will follow our lead in fair play and good conduct, and that they will pledge to avoid slander and negative campaigning at all costs. We love Jefferson, but we’d like to refrain from his style of campaigning by saluting our adversaries, and asking them to keep it classy.
Manish Parikh is a Business junior and CSG presidential candidate. Omar Hashwi is an LSA sophomore and CSG vice-presidential candidate.