Monday, March 27, 2000

Week of 03/27/2000

The Slacker Campaign
- by David Matthews 2

"Although the political liberty of this country is greater than that of nearly every other civilized nations, its personal liberty is said to be less. In other words, men are thought to be more under the control of extra-legal authorities, and to defer more to those around them, in pursuing even their lawful and innocent occupations, than in almost every other country."
- James Fenimore Cooper

Three words come to mind to describe the current presidential campaign: Boring. Very Boring.

I’m not the only one who thinks that way either. The media have jokingly dubbed the 2000 campaign as a race between "Gush and Bore", making fun of both Governor George Bush and Vice-President Al Gore while at the same time emphasizing their political failings.

Part of the problem with this primary season is that it was over way too quickly. Instead of a prolonged season of campaigning and various visits from the candidates, there was a marathon series of primaries from New Hampshire to Texas, forcing many candidates to actually skip some states and concentrate on those that would bring them the larger number of delegates.

Oh sure, the candidates would apologize and say they never really "forgot" about those states. Certainly the frontrunners would claim they never EVER would take the support from those states "for granted". And if you believe that, I’ve got a real sweetheart of a bridge deal for you.

Another part of the problem with this current campaign season are the candidates themselves. This is a case where the political hierarchy and cold hard campaign cash won out over any sort of political ideology. The party bosses did not want reformers or people who would "shake up" the system to be carrying their party banner. They wanted loyalists. They wanted ass-kissers. They wanted someone they could mold to their image and raise the money to keep their respective parties going. They wanted spokesmen, not leaders.

Well, they couldn’t find any more loyal candidates than George W. Bush and Albert Gore, Junior. Two men who got into politics not through leadership or ideology, but rather through their fathers. They got their tickets to ride through nepotism.

What’s worse is that the so-called "competition" has been lacking. Former senator Bill Bradley may have earned some public respect when he dropped out of the Senate because of the games being played, but he had nothing new to offer against the heir apparent to the Clinton machine. Many people knew him, but they just didn’t know what he stood for that was any different than from Al Gore. Being more liberal than the Clinton machine? That’s like saying tofu is not bland enough.

And speaking of that bland substance, the "serious" competition against the GOP’s tofu, Governor Bush, was large in numbers, but equally disappointing. Challengers who offered little that appeased the party loyalists, and most of whom quickly dropped out of the race faster than the time it took for them to enter into it. Senator Bob Smith and conservative loudmouth Pat Buchanan threw temper tantrums and stormed out of the GOP over the party bosses’ unofficial support of Bush. Buchanan is now trying to rally support in the Reform Party. Smith tried to find another party, but none would meet his demands, and he eventually rolled his rotund body back to the ranks of the GOP.

The rest dropped out of contention like flies in a bug zapper. Gone was the social gadfly Liddy Dole, the only female candidate in the GOP. Gone was Senator Orrin Hatch, who never really campaigned because he realized he already had a job as a US Senator. Gone was the theocrat Gary Bauer, who, like God Squad leader Pat Robertson, found it was much better to be the power behind the throne than to try to sit on the throne. Gone was Steve Forbes, who went from being a flat-tax campaigner in 1996, to being a theocratic ass-kisser in 2000, and finding himself in even worse standing. Gone was Senator John McCain, who was the only candidate to pose any real challenge to Bush in the delegates, only to suspend his campaign before the marathon primaries were even finished.

Did I forget anyone? Oh yes, Alan Keys. The only other "serious" GOP contender who, like Pat Buchanan in 1996, is still in the running to keep the party conservative. One has to respect someone who sticks through the race all the way to the convention, even if one does not support everything Keys stands for. Ironically, of the whole group of would-be and wannabe contenders, Keys has been the only candidate who recognizes the existence of the US Constitution. That does not bode well for America, especially since whomever would be taking the Oath of Office in 2001 would be charged with preserving, protecting, and defending the US Constitution. It’s pretty hard to do that when your plans are often in direct violation of what that Constitution entails.

So that’s what we’re told America is left with right now. Two empty, boring candidates who will try to convince us from now until November that one of them is not as empty and boring as the other.

If there was EVER a call for a third option, now is the time.

And that’s really the sad part about this. There is more than just a third option, and I don’t just mean the option of not voting. There are other candidates running for President. Candidates that you will never hear about except over the Internet. Candidates with plans and ideas for making America a better country, for right or for wrong.

Oh, sure, you MIGHT hear a little bit about Pat Buchanan because he’s a GOP also-ran running on the Reform Party ticket. But will the government-condoned duopoly called the Democrats and Republicans allow Buchanan to take part in the debates? Probably not. Not because they thought Buchanan would be a challenge to their power structure, but merely on the principle that adding even ONE extra seat to those debates would open the door for other challenges to their power structure, and to bring in candidates that WOULD be credible enough to pose a threat.

Let’s get brutally honest here… This is not about whether or not third party candidates are competent enough to run for president. As this campaign season proves, any idiot with enough political clout, a team of spin doctors, and a ton of soft money can be considered a candidate for the presidency. This is about maintaining a power structure that have profited the two dominant political parties. This is about maintaining a monopoly that would be blatantly illegal outside of politics.

The end result can be seen by what the voting populace does. They are so turned off by the blandness and the in-fighting and the mudslinging that they refuse to go to the polls. They’ve become a nation of voting slackers; of people for whom the political establishment not only expects to not show up at the polls, but base their very existence on that non-vote.

Is there a solution? You bet. But it’s not going to be easy. It requires changing the voting sentiments of people in general. It means stop voting for whom you think has a better chance of winning and voting for whom you think would best do the job, win or lose. Only when that happens do you stop the dumbing-down of our political candidates. Only then will the candidates and their party bosses stop taking your vote - and especially your non-vote - for granted. Only then will the party bosses to look for real leaders, people who can face the real issues in America, instead of looking for suave spokesmen for their agendas. Only then will you have candidates that are worth a damn in this world.

Forget trying to wait for Congress to pass some kind of lame-ass campaign reform law. The only law they’ll pass will be one that will continue their two-party monopoly and keep the party bosses in power. REAL reform won’t come from the politicians. It will come when the voters stop acting like Pavlovian dogs and start responding to the one voice that truly guides them - their own.

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