The River

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

If you want to run for President, run for President

Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
'Cause there's a million things to be
You know that there are
-- Cat Stevens

Yeah, Ralph, sing your song man. Don’t listen to the critics. If you feel you must mount a campaign in order to get your message out, then do it. They’ll say you’re only doing it for your ego, but if you’re ego wasn’t involved, Ralph, you’d have to be some kind of saint. That’s like saying your doing it because you want the most powerful governmental position on the planet. To which I would say, what’s your point?

I’m sure you know as well as anybody that most who voted for you in the last Presidential election will be voting Democrat this time. I don’t think you really want my vote. I think you really want to demonstrate how tightly shut down our national dialogue is. How all we are getting is the corporate voice. That’s exactly what you did in 2000, and you got no thanks whatsoever. If the liberal intelligentsia, as you call it, put half as much energy into holding their chosen standard-bearers (Al Gore and Joseph Leiberman, last time out) to the liberal policies and positions they believe in, we might have a meaningful election, instead of another charade.

One of the toughest lessons to learn, it seems, is to take the message to heart and absolve the messenger. Here’s the message I’m hearing from what you’ve done and what you’re doing: people, if a third party doesn’t work for you, perhaps we have some fundamental issues to address in the way party representation is set up. And some fundamental changes need to take place on how campaigns are financed. (In checking your Website, I see these two issues are given prominence.)

I saw this message in the fact that Al Gore did nothing to ensure you were allowed to participate in the Presidential debates and Al Gore did nothing to reach out to the liberals that were supporting you. Al Gore, the centrist, wanted the left to shut up and go away and vote for him. Al Gore, like John Kerry, would have invaded Iraq “the right way.” Al Gore was a sell-out in an expensive suit, and everyone knows it. He ran a pathetic campaign. He tried to be Conservative-lite, which only made him a less convincing version of Bush. He stood for nothing, which I find more reprehensible and egotistical than anything you’ve done.

I think the need to get past fear is also the message of your campaign. Fear leads to avoidance and passivity, which leads to blaming others, and finally to a vituperative piling on of one man. It ain’t pretty. Instead of blaming Gore for losing, we’ve been jumping on you with both feet, and we’re still at it. But if we’re afraid of alternatives, we’re not much of a democracy.

It’s obvious from the reaction to your announcement that we desperately need proportional representation. According to a Mount site, “Proportional representation -- sometimes also called "full representation" -- is the voting system used in most Western democracies and is widely considered to be fairer and more democratic than the current U.S. system….The basic principles underlying proportional representation elections are that all voters deserve representation and that all political groups in society deserve to be represented in our legislatures in proportion to their strength in the electorate. In other words, everyone should have the right to fair representation.”

As we have it now, the strength of diverse political groups reflecting a diverse population cannot be truly gauged through elections, because so many either don’t vote because their alternative is not on the ballot, or they don’t vote because their candidate has been marginalized and they’ve been told they must hold their nose and hope things get better. This has yet to work.

As I said, you and I both know that the country has already decided that Bush must go, and the way to do that is to vote for the Democratic nominee. If Bush is “elected,” I think we’ll learn a lot about just how good the plutocratic social engineers are. There will likely be nauseating displays in the media of supposed triumphs in the War on Terrorism (Osama captured!). There may even be a “terrorist attack.” And if there is, this too will be blamed on you, because it will be blamed on every liberal who opposes this administration, this “war President.” Liberals will be called the enemy within encouraging the attackers, making us more vulnerable.

Considering what the Bushies are capable of, bitching about you and blaming you seems an exceptionally weak response and a waste of time. Instead, we might learn from you that standing up to reflexive criticism and speaking out are just what is needed. As Norm and Benedict have also said, go ahead and run, Ralph. Give ‘em hell.

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