The clouds that bore down on Iowa State on Wednesday have a silver lining. Although many of us may very well have murmured to ourselves, “Rain rain go away / Come again another day,” the drops of water that fell from the sky in an on-again, off-again kind of way have one great virtue.
They had the effect of erasing some of the chalk that directed — nay, commanded — us to vote for President Barack Obama, and to do so by taking advantage of the early voting at the Memorial Union.
Those phrases, you may have noticed, were everywhere. And it was an egregious abuse of the privilege students have to decorate our sidewalks with public service announcements about upcoming events and support the clubs in which they hold membership. There is more to student life than the Obama campaign, yet the Obama for America crew has almost monopolized the sidewalks.
As important as it is to vote and perform our civic duty, this is not how it is done. Campaigns should not bludgeon potential voters with their presence. There ought to be some moderation, lest politics — as we have seen in this case — be everywhere. Unfortunately, however, not even the steps of one of our most noted campus landmarks, Curtis Hall, could escape defacement with directives to vote for Obama at the Memorial Union.
Is nothing sacred anymore?
A thriving political world, even if it consists solely of hollow slogans and commands rather than arguments, requires a thriving private world into which politics does not intrude. Any noun — be it a person, place or thing — requires other nouns to be distinct. The public world in which the actions of politics take place requires a private world, a refuge, from political action to keep from becoming an amorphous blob.
That is part of the reason the free speech zone on campus is confined to the lawn outside the Hub and Parks Library. The zone’s boundaries respect the fact that, as a university, Iowa State exists for the sake of education. As important as politics may be, and as important as students may be for electoral victories, we have other things going on in our lives than a presidential campaign full of childish, tit-for-tat campaign rhetoric that is as dishonest as it is annoying.
Making it so that we cannot walk five steps without treading across what, in terms of taste, is a hair-line step above graffiti, makes it very clear what the Obama campaign thinks of students. Rather than being able to make their own decisions, they need their hands held all the way to the voting booth. And of course, since it is Obama supporters leading us to our ballots, we’ll vote for him.
Showing off celebrities such as actor Justin Long and rock star Bruce Springsteen aren’t much better, but we can wait to comment on that until tomorrow.