Covering the ASA Elections

ASA elections are around the corner. If you are like me, you generally have no clue about whom you should prefer. You find most of the candidate statements to be of limited help. You might end up voting for people whose work you’ve read, or whom you’ve met. I’d be curious to see a study of how much the vote is swayed by departmental affiliation.

This is not a great way to choose leaders of our professional association. I’m sure the above criteria don’t tell us much about who would be the best stewards of the ASA. We are choosing leadership in a way that is not wholly unlike the low-information voters that people often deride in government politics. I believe that we can strengthen our association by promoting substantive communication between candidates and voters.

This morning, I have been thinking about how to use this podcasting platform to give candidates the opportunity to communicate with ASA members. Doing so is a dicey proposition, because egos are big and petty grudges can run deeeeeeep in this business, and I want none of that. Moreover, I estimate that our audiences have grown sufficiently large that we could impact down-ballot elections, and I want to act responsibly given that fact. So I’ve been wrestling with how to do this in a way that minimizes our independent influence, and tries to be as pure a conduit as possible.

So this is what I thought up:

  1. Solicit peer feedback on the idea of broadcasting interviews in principle (this post)
  2. Collect ideas on a slate of generic questions that we ask everyone. Please add your ideas below.
  3. Find some consensus way to narrow the questions down to 4 or 5
  4. Offer all candidates for ASA leadership an opportunity to answer these questions and only these questions in a brief interview. Those who do gain the opportunity to make their case to peers, and we adopt a policy of not publicly naming and shaming non-responses
  5. Distribute an substantively unedited version of the answers on our site, and maybe through The Annex (pending my cohosts’ approval).

What do you think? Let me know below. I’m willing to invest the time into doing this if there’s a sense that doing so would be of service to the discipline.

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