13 August 2008

The Presidential Candidates: David A. Koch

"What does it take to be a good President?" Koch asks, "Do I have what it takes to be a good leader? I do wonder. But I know, when I look around at the stable of talent in the two major parties, I am not seeing a whole lot of leadership there. I keep saying to myself, I could do this better, or I have a better way to do that."

Koch launched his candidacy in July 2006. He chose Ken Goldstein, a high school buddy and best man at his wedding, as his running mate. He believes he can replace "the traditional choice of a running mate from a different geographical area" (Koch lives in Utah, Goldstein in California) with an emphasis on Goldstein's "alternate viewpoints." They haven't updated the news on their campaign site since October 2006.

In September 2006 Koch posted a position paper on Iraq. Before the "awakening" and the "surge," he called on Iraqis to "to take charge of their country, and be responsible for their own security and well-being, and to actively map their own future." He lists American priorities in Iraq this way: "We want to limit or eliminate loss to life on all sides; we would like a free, self-governing Iraq; we would like a friend in the mid-East; we would like to demonstrate by example how Democracy can help build a quality of life hitherto unknown in the region; we want to demonstrate by example that we are not necessarily an evil demon but can be a benevolent friend."

Here's his approach to budget issues: "Under our administration, the Federal government will institute a zero-base budget policy. This means that every cent of every department budget will have to be justified on an annual basis. No agency will be able to assume their budget level is safe, and no agency will be able to go after any increases in funds until they can prove that they are spending all existing funds efficiently and for the public good. In such a budget system there is no room for pork barrel projects." He emphasizes that government, and hence the American people, must live within their means. If this means painful choices, so be it. He would rather cut spending than raise taxes.

The odds may be against him, but Koch says, "The real secret to winning an Independent campaign is not attracting already semi-committed voters; it is to interest the disenfranchised. Those that are so dissatisfied with what is happen in politics today, and within their old parties, they have dropped out of the political system. We hope to give these citizens - who are now ignored by the two major parties, and who make up a majority of the potential electorate - a new and better option. If we can attract these voters back into politics, we have a real shot at winning." Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Koch is doing much toward this goal.

Beyond the present campaign, running mate Goldstein calls for wider adoption of Instant Runoff Voting, the system that lets you name several candidates in order of preference, so that your vote will still count even if your first choice finishes last. The idea seems to be that the reform will encourage more people to make independent candidates their first choices as long as they think they'll still be able to pick the winner eventually, but it seems designed more to ease voters' consciences than to improve independents' chances.

"Maybe my ideas are good, maybe not so good- that is for the voters to decide," Koch writes, "I just know that in the last few elections, I spent my time deciding who was the lesser of two evils, not who I felt good about voting for. That, to me, is sad; we are the greatest nation on Earth, but we end up with only two choices to head the country, neither of who excite me at all." Koch should have known that there have never been just two choices in a presidential campaign. But maybe the fact that he didn't realize this is the reason he's running. When you yourself believe that no alternative exists, your only option is to become the alternative. That makes for yet another candidate with a largely unexceptionable but also unexceptional platform. Many independent candidates have to broaden their own horizons while exhorting voters to do so. Some might then find no need to become candidates themselves, and maybe Koch has already discovered this. But presuming that his campaign continues, here's his site.

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