How Jolly Ranchers model democracy


By Micheal Glassman and Rory Bennett

“I’m going to sit back and wait before I donate,” said a donor. “See how things play out.”

On Sunday evening at Golub Minerva house, Democracy Matters (DM) hosted an interactive representation of the political process.

The many students who showed up participated in a game in which they were divided into two groups: donors and legislators.

In the beginning, each donor received six pieces of candy: one Jolly Rancher, two peppermint patties and three Reese’s peanut butter cups.

There were four legislators, each of whom attempted to pass a certain law.

The laws were to improve dining hall facilities, to freeze tuition over the next four years, to improve dormitories and to increase scholarship funds.

For the first round of the game, the donors were told to simply donate candy to whichever legislator represented the cause that appealed to them the most.

By the end of the round, the donors had to donate all their candy; they could give to multiple causes or deposit all their candy in one pile.

The legislator that had the smallest pile of candy was removed from the “congress.”

At the beginning of the second round, DM leader KR White explained to everyone that from that point on, each type of candy had a different value: a peanut butter cup was worth $1, a peppermint patty was worth $10 and a Jolly Rancher was worth $100.

Furthermore, the legislator that was removed was given a handful of Jolly Ranchers, making him the “wealthiest” donor in the room.

As soon as this round started, there was noticeably more activity among those contributing, as each of them had to pay attention to the different values their contemporaries were providing.

In the midst of this commotion the former legislator decided to “sit back and wait” for the others to make their revised decisions.

Just like legislature in Congress, the choices offered in this game were heavily influenced by big money in order to buy votes; in this case, that money came in the form of Jolly Ranchers.

At the end of this round, the victorious lawmaker had compiled 13 Jolly Ranchers, while counterparts received about half as many.

The big money donator was given ten Jolly Ranchers; meaning ten people with “average incomes” would need to band together to counteract such an influence.

This game was meant to illustrate the need for Grassroots movements to represent what the everyday citizen stands for.

Democracy Matters is a student-run organization determined to take big money out of politics and push for campaign finance reform.

Founded by former NBA star Adonal Foyle, there are numerous chapters in colleges across the United States.

This upcoming 2016 presidential election will feature the Koch Brothers, who have pledged to donate $889 million. That’s a lot of Jolly Ranchers!


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