News Archive

2012 ALJBS political system begins

Political advisors pick their parties and electrify delegates

Federalist Party Advisor Ziad Shehady fires up the crowd

Each of the two political parties at Boys State (the Nationalists and the Federalists) has its own advisor. The advisors are staff members who had extensive Boys State political experience as delegates and can counsel current delegates who are running for a Boys State office. This year, our advisors are Vinny Solomeno, Boys Nation Senator '02, and Ziad Shehady '01, Mayor of Springfield, NJ, and they chose their parties today during the first assembly while electrifying the crowd. This is the story of how it happened.

John Migaleddi, Dean of Politics, tosses a coin into the air. This is the only election this week, he informs us, that will be decided by a coin toss. Vinny Solomeno, standing to Migaleddi's left, has chosen heads. Both watch the coin as it tumbles through the air and lands with a thud on the carpeted risers. Heads it is. Solomeno has won and will choose a party to advise.

He walks to the podium and leans over it, looking at the mass of white-shirted delegates awaiting his choice. He hesitates, then speaks calmly. "When I was a delegate in 2002—you probably weren't even five back then—the Governor and both Boys Nation Senators were from the Nationalist party. I was one of those Senators. I was honored to represent the party then and I am glad to represent the Nationalist party again this year."

As Solomeno steps back, his counterpart Ziad Shehady takes the microphone from the podium and steps to the front of the stage. "Are you here, Federalists?"

The Federalists cheer meekly, which is unacceptable to Shehady, who bellows his question again. This time, his party replies acceptably. Satisfied, he continues. "I am thrilled—nay, I am honored—"

The crowd murmurs.

"I am honored to be the party advisor for the Federalist Party. When I was a Statesman 11 years ago, I was a Federalist. Hands down, the best party at Boys State! Sixty-seven years of Boys State—and the Federalists have the highest record for elected offices in history. The most governors! In fact, the last fifteen governors of Boys State have been from the Federalist party!"

It is a baldfaced lie but it has the desired effect. The murmuring has risen along with Shehady's voice. He is getting louder and more forceful.

"The Federalists passed the most comprehensive legislation at Boys State. We have taken hard stands on issues! We have tackled things the Nationalist Party would not even touch!"

He is almost shouting now. Shehady's forearms flex as he points to the podium, where an imaginary list of the Nationalist Party misdeeds lies. His party is in an uproar, even before the final rallying cry.

"Mark my words: I will not let our party down! Nationalists, tremble in fear because the Federalists will prevail!"

The Federalists are on their feet, cheering loudly. This is no mere political system. This is a matter of pride, of manhood, of togetherness. The Nationalists cannot be allowed to win the governorship and break the longstanding streak. Something so shameful cannot happen on their watch. They will not allow it on their year.

Solomeno has watched his party be outshined by the theatrics of the Federalist advisor and can not let this pompous bluster go unchallenged. Shaking his head, he takes the microphone. "Typical. Typical Federalist Party, always talking a big game but never backing it up. The Nationalist Party will rise and claim our rightful place. We stand proudly, together. We are the true representation of Boys State and we will prevail!"

It is the Nationalists' turn to stand and cheer. Shehady and Solomeno have whipped this once-quiet crowd into a frenzy, kickstarting the political system with a double dose of partisan bravado. The Boys State spirit is alive and well. It is time for the elections to begin.

originally posted June 17, 2012 2300