02 January 2012

Resolutions: looking back and looking forward

Welcome to 2012. The crying need for a viable independent presidential candidate -- or the need for ordinary Americans to recruit one -- is likely to grow more obvious as we move forward from tomorrow's caucuses in Iowa. While it may not prove very helpful, I propose to repeat this year what I did here four years ago and present profiles of the various people running for President in 2012. Some if not most of these people will be hopeless eccentrics, but my hope is that their examples will clarify our sense of what we really want in and from a President. One of the morals of my 2008 survey was that self-nomination is nearly always suspect, but we will certainly encounter candidates of small parties who've been chosen by people besides themselves. That's the beginning of real independence: not simply choosing an unfamiliar brand but actually contributing to the creation of an alternate product. Americans need to trade their consumerist notion of politics for a producerist one; if they don't like the existing choices they ought to be able to give themselves more. At the same time, this blog will look back periodically one hundred years to 1912, when the country had two potent and starkly different examples of independent campaigns: Theodore Roosevelt's "Bull Moose" campaign, which depended upon his celebrity and credibility as a former President, and Eugene Debs's Socialist campaign, which came at a moment when the Socialists appeared poised for a national breakthrough to major-party status. It should prove instructive to the present to see what options were available for Roosevelt and Debs that may not be available now. On the other hand, communications technology should give any 2012 independent a tremendous advantage over any insurgent of 100 years ago. One way or another, we should figure out whether it is easier or more difficult now for an independent, famous or not, to challenge the American Bipolarchy. I hope to make it all equally informative and entertaining, but as always, it'll be up to all of you to figure this year out for yourselves. Be sure to come back soon.

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