Although satirical in nature, all facts, names, and organizations used in this story are entirely true. Public information used in this exposé was found via AggieNetwork, Facebook, the Battalion and organizational websites.
“From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. And from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.”
This letter was delivered late last night, February 25th, to Mugdown HQ addressed from former Student Body President, Jeff Pickering. After our last letter from him, we were surprised a second was able to find its way to our doorstep. We were also a bit confused, because we thought he was dead… But it seems that when things get tough, Pickering gets tougher. The following are the unaltered contents of his letter:
I am referring not to the Spirit of Aggieland, but rather the political machine that has been meticulously constructed over the last ten years. With the election season concluding in unspectacular form, I decided to dig deeper. And I struck gold.
The shiny chunk of iron sulfide put on display for our “noble” school to gawk at. I examined the inner-workings of Aggie student politics to determine why the most recent candidates have been able to win elections so handily.
It was sickening to watch Kyle Kelly’s campaign video featuring an endorsement from Reid Joseph. It was masterfully formulaic. I could not help but recall Joseph’s own video last year, with endorsements from three Student Body Presidents: John Claybrook, Mark Gold, and, worst of all, myself. These endorsements are instrumental in swaying undecided voters.
The question, then, you should be asking is not why these “establishment” candidates keep winning. No. It goes deeper than that. The question is why have the past student body presidents continued to be involved in Aggie politics long after their term.
I went to the Aggie Student Government Association and began to research the past ten Student Body Presidents to find out. What I thought were just coincidences began to come up again and again. As far back as 2005, current Student Body Presidents and other campus leaders were endorsing and essentially “choosing” the man who would will fill their shoes.
Another president. Another continuation of the trend.
What I found myself tied up in was a fully-functioning political establishment known simply as ‘The Machine’. This clanking monstrosity of an organization commands enough votes to control a city, a state – or in this case – a school. Many universities around the nation have established, well-known machines and Texas A&M has the lowest of them all. My goal is not to criticize the men and women involved. Many of the poor devils are not even aware of the Machine’s existence. No. My goal is merely to bring the Machine sputtering into the light.
The men behind the Machine can consistently be pinned to three primary campus organizations: Aggie Men’s Club, Maroon Coats, and, the worst, Fish Aides. These three organizations are well known and even respected on campus, producing many of the most recognized members of the Aggie community.
Below is the list of the past ten student body presidents, including the new president-elect, Kyle Kelly. You will find the organizations mentioned above as well as any relevant executive positions.
Kyle Kelly ‘14
Maroon Coats, Exec VP, Reid’s Campaign Manager, BCA, Ross Volunteers
Reid Joseph ‘14
AMC, Maroon Coats, Fish Aides, Abbott
John Claybrook ‘13
AMC, Maroon Coats, Fish Aides
Jeff Pickering ‘12
Jacob Robinson ‘11
Maroon Coats, Fish Aides
Eric Beckham ‘10
AMC, Fish Aides, Exec Vice President, Big Event
Mark Gold ‘09
Maroon Coats, Fish Aides, Big Event
Conner Prochaska ‘08
AMC, Ross Volunteers, PMC, E-2
Nic Taunton ‘07
AMC, SGA Development VP, Freshman SGA Programs
Jim Carlson ‘06
AMC, COSGA, Parents Weekend
Of the last 10 presidents there have been four in Fish Aides, five in Maroon Coats, and seven in AMC. I decided I wanted a challenge by only joining one of the three.
Although not listed above, most of these candidates were also active managers or volunteers with the winning Student Body President Campaign below them.
Starting to notice the trend?
In my research, I found an opinion piece by Jason Deuterman, published to the Battalion in 2007, that puts it beautifully.
“The influence AMC exerts on the student population is important to any candidate the organization endorses, but influence always comes second to an organization that can provide manpower.” Deuterman said. “The candidate who wields the power of the Fish Aides is the true front runner.”
It has reached a point where one simply has to look at the candidate’s resume to know who will win the election.
Sorry, Kasey and Gus. Sorry, Garrett Nerren. Sorry, Thomas McNutt. It’s nothing personal – It’s just politics.
Many upperclassmen have become jaded by this. But, the freshmen are still naive. Bless their poor, ignorant souls. They don’t know the system yet and so many of the campaign promises would directly impact their lives. They each have a personal stake in the candidates.
This is where the Machine draws its power. It is filled with influential, connected leaders and supported by an organization of stupid freshmen – freshmen who are more than willing to hold banners for an entire week if it means that in two years, it will be their name on that banner.
After all, it worked for me.
-Jeff Pickering ‘12
Don’t be deceived though, the Machine is not supported solely by manpower. It is a combination of reputation, prestige, and connectedness that makes this group so effective. This is a three-part exposé. In part two, I will attack what each of the organizations supporting the Machine contributes and what makes their campaigns so effective.
To read the second part of this article, click here.