In "Essay on Lucidity", which is not a trial but a novel, one of my favorite authors describe an electoral process. A fictional process, but at the same time real in a way that the "real" does not become (as often happens with good myths). In Saramago's myth-history, and the rain relentless, the inhabitants of a city (none, all, anyone) ever vote, vote and vote more than ever all ... blank. So begins the novel.
Today's vote in the precinct had also some romance. A controversial premise: the question and the process seemed to tip the scales chosen in a particular direction, one favoring the status quo. A period of suspense: waiting for votes, and their own, while (as in Saramago's novel) raining. Other parallel plots and actors: students, staff, faculty, that made democracy in other ways before, during and after the vote. And "silent majority" that many vocal players claimed to know but at the end of the day, we surprised everyone.
The phrase "silent majority" has been in many mouths protagonists lately. University administrators, professors, students, politicians. Assume that there is a silent majority who are misled but thinking in alignment with the power shift has been a discursive strategy used for a long time. Nixon said there was a silent majority who wanted the Vietnam War, and contrasted that great with silent mass (according to him) less hairy and loud group of opponents to the war. Forty years later, Fortuño, Rodríguez Ema, Figueroa Sancha and others indicate that students who speak to strike in the UPR are a "small group" tiny, always the same, furry and loud. In the budget message called them the " tiny protest group "and contrasted with the" majority inmensísima classes want to continue ".
Maybe we all believed in the silent majority. When I knew I would have a referendum with a question as simplistic as "do you strike, yes or no", I thought the "silent majority" react saying no. After all, that, in absolute terms, no one wants to "strike". People opt for the strike as a resource because they want something else, not as an end in itself.
It turns out that more than half of the votes were from SI to strike. The vaunted "silent majority" turned out not to exist. Although democracy, in its broadest sense, it was not too present in the process design , individual student participants re-defined the rules of the game, made this vow else part of broader, more complex, more democratic, more university.
Saramago's novel, the authorities opt for tough response to the white vote, which they interpret as terribly subversive. The results of the heavy-handed, of course, are disastrous for democracy (for life) in the City. And that's true in the novel and in history. That the UPR dialogue prevail, the use of university space as a platform for a national conversation, creativity and reasoning.