We Do Want Diwan

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Isaac Millians

Subtle messaging makes it clear who the right choice it. Campaign poster for Aaradhya Diwan made by Isaac Millians. An alternative slogan used was “Diwan is the One!”

“The memes have succeeded! The trolls are here! Homecoming king! We do want Diwan!”

These were the historic words shouted by the newly crowned Aaradhya Diwan, as he was surrounded by a throng of cheering high schoolers. It may seem like a strange quote, but as the product of an unusual campaign for an unlikely candidate, it isn’t so out of place.

Aaradhya, who goes by the nickname “Aadi,” was sitting in AP Physics when he first received an email informing him of his status as 1 of 10 candidates for Homecoming King. “What I’d known was my Physics class had joked around with nominating me,” said Diwan, considering that first moment of realization. He never expected them to actually go through with it.

Although he was hesitant at first, Diwan chose not to back down from the opportunity, saying he felt “it would be funny if I run, so I just went through with it.” Still, he believed his chances were slim. “Aradhya,” as was labeled on the ballot, certainly seemed like the odd one out. Diwan decided to just “let it run naturally” for the first round of voting, only relying on friends who had already pledged their support and word of mouth.
That proved to be enough, as Aadi was announced as one of the remaining five candidates left in the race. While he had gotten by with relatively little effort, Diwan felt he would have to “do a little bit of campaigning” if he wanted to keep up.

The operation began by targeting student voter apathy and “voter comedy.” Diwan stated he approached those who weren’t fully serious about the whole affair, with the attitude of, “vote for me, it’ll be funny.” This was generally the tone of the campaign as a whole, encapsulated in a poster which invaded the line of sight of eligible voters everywhere.

In front of contrasting images evoking heaven and hell, Aadi stands in the middle and offers a clear choice: “Vote Aaradhya for Homecoming King! Or else…” The slogan “We Do Want Diwan!” is featured prominently, and it soon became the rallying cry of Aadi’s campaign. Developed by Diwan’s campaign manager, these posters were quickly disseminated around CHS. “After analysis of school pathways, we hung them up at the weirdest and most noticeable places,” Diwan recalls. These included an overhang above the lunch line, at the CTE entrance, around stairwells, and in the boys bathroom. In other words, they were hard to ignore. Besides gaining some support from other candidates who had dropped out, this was about the extent of Diwan’s campaign.

According to Diwan, “I didn’t care too much about getting first place. I just wanted to make a noticeable impact”. Diwan was unable to attend any of the major functions before the dance, like the parade and pep rally, where a teacher called for him to take the stand only to be followed by awkward silence. However, he says he wouldn’t have gone if he could. While these stunts limited his ability to self-promote, they might have worked to Aadi’s benefit, reinforcing his image as an anti-establishment figure.

While these stunts limited his ability to self-promote, they might have worked to Aadi’s benefit, reinforcing his image as an anti-establishment figure.”

Diwan wasn’t expecting victory on the night of the dance, although there was an undeniable aura around the polling stations that might have suggested otherwise. Still, it was too early to call anything, especially as shady dealings in support of other candidates were afoot. “As I walked up to the stage, my only thought was ‘How am I not going to embarrass myself?’” said Diwan, who felt nervous walking up to the stage and standing in front of the crowd. As chants were given for each candidate, keen participants might have tried to notice imperceptible differences between the volumes of names to predict the results.

Then came the moment of truth. As the crowd held their breath, 2021’s Homecoming King was announced: Aaradhya Diwan. The trolls had arrived. The memes had succeeded. The people had spoken. They did want Diwan. Cheers of celebration erupted, although a few murmurs of “who?” could be heard beneath the commotion. Diwan had a large, bright blue crown placed on his head, which he let others try on for photo ops. The moment was only interrupted after repeated calls from his father, who was waiting outside to pick him up.

Diwan stands victorious. The crown was subsequently passed between several people, but has since returned to its rightful owner. (Isaac Millians)

When Diwan eventually revealed his triumph to his parents weeks later, he opened up a piece of family history that was unbeknownst to him. “My mom looked through her phone for a long time until she found a photo of her as Homecoming Queen. I guess it’s genetic.”

Although the title of Homecoming King comes with some level of clout, Diwan denies he wanted any of it, already feeling uncomfortable when a few teachers bowed to their new sovereign on his first day back. “I don’t want the extra attention,” stated Diwan, although in reference to his new status, he added that, “the only thing I intend to use it for is senior prank ideas.” Diwan also provided a cryptic and rather ominous remark: “Keep voting like this in the future and you’ll prosper.” He refused to elaborate further.

When asked for his thoughts on the entire affair, Aadi asserted that, “it was still a joke the entire time.” But when a joke manages to support a grassroots campaign, elevate a populist candidate into the spotlight, and win an election, perhaps it’s worth more than just a simple laugh.