Can eight minds think alike?

In just under a week, I, like thousands of other Bloomington residents, will head to the polls to decide the fate of the Bloomington City Council and the school system. This election has already been one of the most interesting elections I have witnessed in years due to a controversial referendum involving the schools. There is also, within the city, a city council election that has proved to be amusing.

In terms of the city council elections, I have really only given it substantial thought twice: once about a month ago when I had a strange revelation and this past weekend when I had a complete reversal in my thinking.

About a month ago while I was driving across Bloomington from one place to another, it occurred to me that until that point I had only heard from the Republican candidates. At the time I thought to myself that it was really neat. Imagine, a political party being unified enough to get nine candidates to run for office as a block, in the hopes that they would prevail and control city council. They also had given up on the mayor’s office, opting to let the incumbent Democrat retain the seat unchallenged.

Ironically, shortly after I returned home, Pam Service, the incumbent Democrat City Council member from my district (District 6) who is not running for reelection, rang my doorbell and encouraged me to vote for the Democrat running in my council district, thus shattering my brief notion that the Democrats were not going to be visible at all this election season.

I was still impressed enough with the Republicans that I continued to ponder whom I would actually vote for. Neither of the candidates running in my district are so inspired that I feel compelled to run out and vote for them early, nor so dastardly as to have caused me to run out and campaign against them.

I pretty much stopped thinking about the issue until late last week when I viewed the results of a City Council candidate survey in the Bloomington Independent and quickly realized that I was in the presence of something strange and improbable: Eight of the nine Republicans on the City Council ticket answered the questions as a group.

The odds that two people will ever agree on every issue 100 percent of the time is somewhere near zero, even if both people are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians or (even) members of the Reform Party. So if I wasn’t actually witnessing this event, then I must have been witnessing the world’s first eight-headed body that is not completely physically connected. Think of it as a new type of Siamese twin, if you wish.

Naturally, that is improbable as well, so there’s something fishy going on with the Republican side of the City Council ticket. This running as a group thing has gone too far: the last time I witnessed a group of people running together, at least they had the decency to admit that they didn’t completely agree on every subject. Of course, it was a marathon.

It is true that there have been a couple of occasions when the Indiana Daily Student and Herald-Times have cornered the candidates separately and interviewed them separately from the groupthink approach that they as Republicans seem to have undertaken this year. My impression at the time was that the individual candidates acted more like deer caught in headlights than individuals. Of course that held for the Democrats as well: the inane profiles published by the IDS and the H-T are exactly that: inane profiles.

This impressive show of “groupthink” has managed to turn me off. I still do not have any strong opinions one way or another about the two candidates running for office in my district. But since I have strong doubts about the ability of eight men and women to agree on every issue, I am disinclined to believe the Republican ticket’s unified answers to all the questions. Which means that by default, the Republican in my district is facing an uphill battle to get my vote during this last week.

Which presents another problem: I never vote a straight ticket. As such, I have to find at least one non-Democrat to vote for. I can either vote for Michael Schitt, the Libertarian running for City Council At Large, or one of the other two non-party mayoral candidates.

That decision is one I’ll be mulling over between now and Election Day. I hope that those of you registered to vote in Bloomington will do the same and remember to get out to the polls next week as well. It is important that students are involved in the city as residents, not just be visitors passing through.

Oh yes, and about that other vote I’ll be casting: I already know that I support quality education in public schools and I will vote accordingly.

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