Building on a Legacy As general chair for Mock Con 2020, Jimmy Fleck '20 uses his political knowledge and business skills to lead a team of stand-out students toward a historic moment.
“Politics often divides people, but Mock Con is a chance for our whole community to come together.”
~ Jimmy Fleck ’20
Hometown: St. Charles, Illinois
Majors: Business Administration and Politics
Q: How and why did you get involved in Mock Con?
I’ve always been fascinated by politics, especially on the presidential level. I worked on my first political campaign in middle school, and ever since I’ve had a deep interest in the mechanisms of elections. When I came to W&L, I saw Mock Con as both a way to engage this interest, as well as be involved in one of the school’s great legacies. I applied for the role of general chair because I saw it as a way to have a high impact, and also because I thought my skills and experiences would fit the most effectively. The application process took three months and consisted of a written application, an interview by a panel of Mock Con 2016 members, two group scenario interviews with other candidates, and finally a dinner and lunch meeting with alumni and faculty that were involved in Mock Con 2016. Overall, it was a fairly rigorous process, and tested me in several different ways.
Q: What do you like most about politics?
I’m fairly optimistic about the role of politics in our society. I see it as a noble pursuit of the solution to a given problem, and as a way to settle differences. It’s my belief that politics should be a positive endeavor of citizens working to improve their government, but too often today it becomes a negative and divisive part of life.
Q: What does your role with Mock Con entail?
As the general chair, I’m tasked with overseeing the entire Mock Con organization and ensuring its success. I’m involved to varying degrees with all aspects of the Mock Con organization, and I primarily work to make sure everyone is on the same page and communicating with other parts of the team. Mock Con has become a very large organization, so I try my best to make sure that everyone stays on the same page as we advance our mission. That means working on issues of capacity, going on fundraising trips or even communicating with the media.
Q: Can you give us a peek at the work that takes place in order to pull off a (hopefully) accurate guess at the eventual nominee?
The work of the political team is always impressive to me. I’m a firm believer in the fact that W&L students are the best and brightest of our generation, and a correct prediction will be evidence of that. Our method is known as the “trident strategy,” and is made up of the local approach with our state and regional chairs, a national approach and a metadata team. With all these students looking at the prediction from different angles, we can have the most informed and, ideally, most accurate prediction possible.
One of the most fascinating moments was our predictions for the 2018 midterms, when we analyzed the Missouri Senate race, among others. We saw that there would be rain in St. Louis, which would reduce the voting in the heavily Democratic city, and this supported our ultimately correct prediction of Republican Josh Hawley. For me, this represents the attention to detail and rigor that our team is prepared to put into the prediction as we look towards the February Convention.
Q: Give us three reasons everyone on campus should be at Mock Con 2020:
The prediction of the Democratic nominee is always a special moment, so I definitely encourage everyone to be in attendance for that special and historic moment. A particularly exciting reason to attend Mock Con is the speakers that are brought to campus. It’s a great chance to experience high quality speakers, and our speakers team outreach has been very positive thus far. Finally, a reason that is especially important is that Mock Convention is a chance for campus-wide unity. Politics often divides people, but Mock Con is a chance for our whole community to come together.
Q: What makes Mock Con 2020 unique compared to past conventions?
We were left in a strong position after the 2016 Mock Convention, and we have leveraged that to improve our Mock Con. The location of this Convention, in the Duchossois Tennis Center, is particularly unique and has resulted in challenges as well as a new look for the Convention Weekend itself. We’ve also expanded our communication and political teams for the cycle.
On the communications side, you can see the wide range of our outreach, both on and off campus, as a way to fully inform and involve our community. On the other hand, our political team has added a metadata team to apply computer science techniques to further inform the prediction in our increasingly digital world. Overall, we’re hoping to build on Mock Con’s legacy for success and ensure that it can continue to be the great experience it has been for so many that have come through W&L.
Q: What skills have you picked up as part of Mock Con that you think will serve you well in your future career?
My interpersonal skills have definitely been exercised through my Mock Con experience. Dealing with people is one of the most frequent and interesting parts of my role, so it always pushes forward my ability to communicate effectively. When dealing with problems, I’ve found my critical thinking to be sharper after going through the many challenges that Mock Conventions routinely face. Finally, my time management has improved as a necessity for juggling the various responsibilities of my role. I use my calendar far more than I ever did in high school!
Q: What has been your favorite part of this experience?
My favorite part of Mock Con has been, by far, my experiences with the many people that make up our W&L community. Whether it’s talking to new students, chatting with faculty and staff, or meeting with alumni around the country, I’ve been able to engage with all different parts of the vast W&L network. Meeting people and seeing their support for Mock Con and the student body is always incredibly uplifting. Altogether, I love getting to meet people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.