Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Story of My Run for President

It was suggested by Anne Cleveland of An Octogenarian's Blog that I write the story of my presidential campaign. Bits and pieces of the story are here in earlier posts, and I hope I don't forget or leave out important parts, but here it is.

I had given up on "politics", but liked L. Neil Smith enough that I was wanting him to run for the LP nomination for 2004. He decided against it, but endorsed Michael Badnarik. I read Mr. Badnarik's website and really liked what I saw, so I wrote him. He wrote back and eventually we spoke on the phone a couple of times. I really liked him and couldn't find any point where we disagreed, so I tried to help his campaign and encouraged my friends to look into his campaign and consider supporting him. Against the odds, he actually won the LP's nomination, but didn't do well in the election. The day after the election, I woke up thinking that if a libertarian wasn't going to win anyway, I could lose an election as nicely as anyone else could. So, I decided I might as well run for president; after all, I had 4 years to build momentum. Like a glacier.

That night, I sat down and made a Geocities page, detailing what I would do as president. The same campaign promises are still posted on my KentForLiberty site. Then I went on the Claire Files forum (now The Mental Militia Forums) and made my first public announcement.

I joked and discussed my campaign with a few people, not taking it very seriously. I did get a rubber stamp in order to put my Geocities website, shortened through notlong.com, on FRNs. If you run across any bills stamped "kent2008.notlong.com", that is my work.

Things went slowly for a year and a half, then things exploded. I'm not even certain what happened. People discovered my campaign somehow. I was in the middle of a strange 6 month-long vacation when I was contacted and "challenged" to start a blog to discuss my stand on the issues and allow people to ask me questions. I had never thought of blogging before, and was certain I would run out of things to talk about after a couple of weeks. After all, I had said all I needed to say on my campaign page, right?

Suddenly I had more people writing me than I knew what to do with, but I made sure to answer every single one. Even the ones who told me to perform physically impossible acts upon myself and then die. I started finding my campaign mentioned on different websites every day, often in less than complimentary ways. Although I had never mentioned seeking the nomination of any party, thinking I was too radical for any national party, I was finding myself listed as "Libertarian". Someone suggested I write Selectsmart.com about being included in their candidate selector, so I did and ended up being the only "Libertarian" in the quiz ..... until the last moment when the LINOs nominated by the LP were added.

Eventually I was contacted by the Libertarian Party and invited to seek their nomination. This thing was getting more serious than I had intended. I was interviewed by a few different internet "radio" shows, and invited to take part in different forums ("fora"?) to answer questions about my stand on important issues. I tried to accept every invitation, although I normally only participated until the original flurry of activity died down a bit. I took part in several conference calls between the LP candidates. This convinced me that I probably wasn't cut out for politics. I became somewhat disillusioned listening to the less-than-civil exchanges between certain people.

Then came the detractors who said I didn't look "professional" enough, had the audacity to run for president before I had been elected dog-catcher, refused to accept donations, and wouldn't remove the endorsement of "Breechcloth Day" from my web page. Hey, I thought this was supposed to be FUN!

My Geocities page was also said to be hideous, so I sought advice, and got a real website. The response was positive about that change, at least. Still, nothing was ever enough for those who just wanted something to whine or complain about, and I am stubborn enough to stand my ground instead of doing things just to make people happy.

There finally came a point where I needed to get serious, if I wanted to get serious (which had not originally been my plan). I looked into registering with the FEC so I would have a "real campaign". What I ran into there disgusted me. There was no provision for refusing donations, and the paperwork and reporting requirements went against everything I stood for. I now knew why the same type of people keep getting elected: the system is set up to disqualify anyone else. The game was more seriously rigged than I had previously suspected.

Added to some things that were going on personally, I decided I wouldn't continue to seek the LP nomination, and would stop campaigning. So I made the announcement that I was done. The reaction was immediate and upsetting. So many people wrote me, acting like I had let them down. Had I made a mistake?

After some soul-searching I decided that the best thing I could do was offer myself as a write-in candidate. I knew that without registering with the FEC any votes for me would not be counted, but being unwilling to submit to a government commission's illegal interference with the election process left me with few options. At least, few options that didn't compromise my principles.

I continued to answer questions, and to encourage those who still felt they needed to vote to vote for me. I feel that the best way to avoid "wasting your vote" is to refuse to spend it. No one is qualified to "run the country" or anything else other than his or her own life. Vote accordingly.

After the election, I was dismayed to see that everyone thinks someone else won, when obviously all those who refused to vote for any of the clowns on the ballot were clearly giving me a mandate. All the non-voters outnumber those who voted for the current president hundreds-to-one. I guess I don't want the job enough to get my hands dirty in court to challenge the usurper in the White House.

I have been asked by several people if I will run again next time. I have told them "no"; I can't imagine any circumstance arising that would cause me to do it again. The older I get, the more skeptical I become of any form of organized external "government". Self-government is the only kind that has ever worked, or ever will.