This week I had the opportunity to sit in on a local 4-H club’s yearly officer elections. Each member, from 8 to 18 years old, had the opportunity to participate in the process and cast their vote for the club president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and historian. After a few minutes of watching the process, I decided our politicians could take a few lessons from our local 4-H youth.
Perhaps one of the most attractive points of the 4-H club election process was the extremely expedited campaign process. There were no yard signs, TV ads, radio ads, sponsored Facebook ads, billboards, newspaper editorials, or campaign donation requests. Especially attractive, was that there were no phone calls during dinner from pollsters prior to the election asking 20 leading questions related to the upcoming election. The entire 4-H officer election process consisted of a nomination and then a speech of one minute or less by each candidate. The combination of advance preparation and impromptu speaking (by middle schoolers, nonetheless) completed without campaign managers or teleprompters was quite refreshing.
Each candidate’s speech was listened to respectfully by all members. Most
members shared their experiences in 4-H or on Student Council, and their desire to become more involved in their club as a reason for running. There was no booing, no mudslinging of opponents, and no division of who was on what side. Each candidate’s speech was met with applause by all members.
Perhaps the closest thing to a political promise of the evening was one member’s pledge to use parliamentary procedure to run a quick and efficient meeting! On the political scene lately though, it seems most political campaigns are a combination of who can promise the most ‘free stuff’. As I thought about the fact that not a single of the 4-H officer hopefuls had promised anything free to their fellow members, I thought that might be a function that at their age they likely don’t have much for assets to offer. But then again, politicians aren’t offering their own assets, they are simply offering to redistribute the assets of some taxpayers to other citizens. I much prefer the promise of quick and efficient meetings over promises of ‘free stuff’ by politicians.
At the end of the night, votes were tallied in a matter of minutes and results announced promptly. There was no election forecasting done during the process, and no waiting up until the wee hours of the morning checking websites for results. At the conclusion of the evening, snacks were enjoyed by all, in the company of all.
Regardless of the 4-H club election’s outcome, I’m confident everyone will continue to work together for the coming year. Yes indeed, there is many a lesson that can be learned from elections of the local 4-H club!