Independent John Anderson, in an election decided by the U.S. House of Representatives, has defeated President Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan for the presidency. The new vice president is former Arizona congressman Morris (Mo) Udall, 1976 presidential candidate.
If the results sound a bit premature, you're right. But Anderson and Udall were the choices of students at J.E.B. Stuart High School in Fall Church, in mock political campaigns decided early this week.
After weeks of electioneering, party conventions and a national election late last week, the election was thrown into the House (the Student Government Association) Monday, where Anderson and Udall were chosen by a unanimous vote.
Five delegations -- representing the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior classes and the SGA, voted after the popular count failed to provide a clear plurality for any candidate.
Last week, students had elected delegates to mock political conventions, where Republicans nominated Ronald Reagan and Democrats nominated Jimmy Carter. But the ballot presented in Friday's general election also listed Anderson, libertarian Ed Clark and musician Joe Walsh, a write-in candidate.
In the popular voting, in which about half the 1,500 students took part, the results were: Reagan, 33 percent; Anderson, 29 percent, Carter, 23.5 percent, and Clark, 5.6 percent.
Claude Convisser, an 18-year-old senior at J.E.B. Stuart, estimated that 300 to 325 members of the graduating class will be eligible to vote in November's elections.
Convisser was the chief architect of the program to involve Stuart students in the election process. A senior who expects to major in government at Harvard, Convisser explained his interest in the subject.
"I love politics, and I'm an alternate to the Democratic State convention on May 16 in Richmond. I thought having political campaigns and conventions in the school would help the kids understand the process."
Despite his Democratic leanings, Convisser took a nonpartisan role last week by acting as chairman at both conventions, the Democratic one held Thursday morning and the Republican gathering that afternoon. He read the roll call of states just as a national convention chairman would.
The conventions -- like their real counterparts -- were marked by some down unpopular speakers, throwing paper wads and airplanes at the stage and wondering about the auditorium as order was being called.
While the underlying intent of the mock elections was serious, the students managed to inject a dose of youthful mischief and candor.
For instance, no Virginia delegates were sent to the Democratic convention, a circumstance explained by Kevin Kelly, a Republican delegate from Virginia.
"My English class was supposed to represent Virginia," he said. "Four of us voted for Ronald Reagan and were sent to the Republican convention. The rest of the kids wrote in the name of Joe Walsh, the lead guitarist for the Eagles, and since Joe Walsh is only 32 and you have to be 35 to run for president, their ballots were disqualified."
There was across-the-board support on one issue: legalization of marijuana.
But the more intensely involved students discounted the pro-pot demonstrations.
"They seemed to place more importance on it than they actually do," Convisser said, and several student leaders nodded their heads n agreement, including Chris Hoshko, official partiamentarian for the elections.
"When you talk to the kids," Hoshko said, "you find out most of them generally reflect the attitudes of their parents, and their parents' values as well.
An exception to the rule was Salvadore Cordova, who impersonated Republican candidate Ronald Reagan. "I am a strong Reagan supporter. My parents," he added with a sharp smile, "are Democrats."
Cordova was the high-visibility candidate, carefully dressed in a three-piece suit, television-blue shirt and conservative tie, and carrying a leather attache case.
As he was promising his followers "reductions of government and no more betrayal of our allies," two laughing classmates climbed on stage, seized the dimunitive Cordova and hauled him struggling from the podium.
Before Convisser could gavel the delegates back to order, Cordova had straightened his suit, climbed back on stage and resumed his acceptance speech. s