Run Jesse Run!
By Dan Phillips, MD.
March 16, 2015
Jesse Ventura has long been discussed as a possible candidate for the Libertarian Party (LP) presidential nomination. Now Ventura is addressing the issue himself . Ventura seems to want to use the Libertarian Party as a vehicle for ballot access without actually joining the party. He plans to run on the claim that if elected he will be the first President since George Washington who is not a member of any party, and joining the LP would obviously invalidate this talking point. Ventura appears to envision an anti-Establishment fusion campaign, because he mentions former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney as a potential running mate, that is heavily focused on opposition to war.
First of all, I’m not sure this is technically feasible. Party rules and ballot access laws are complex so whether or not a Ventura campaign along these lines could actually happen would have to be confirmed.
I’m also not sure how open LP delegates would be to Ventura. Many LP members are sensitive to the perception that they are a collection of kooks and outliers, so some are very squeamish about candidates who are overtly associated with conspiracy theorizing.
Also, it’s not clear that LP delegates would be open to someone who essentially wants to use their party for ballot access, without wholeheartedly embracing the Libertarian label. I am not an expert on Ventura’s politics, but his rhetoric suggests that he leans heavily libertarian. His history of affiliation with the Reform Party (the Independence Party in Minnesota where he was elected Governor) also suggests someone who is practical and independent minded and doesn’t want to be tied down by ideological labels.
I’m not a Libertarian Party member, so they can take my advice for what it’s worth, but I think LP members should seriously consider a Jesse Ventura nomination. Here’s why.
The way I generally perceive of ideological third parties, such as the LP, the Constitution Party and the Green Party, and the way most members and supporters perceive of them, is as purer expressions of ideologies that are already expressed but to lesser degrees by the two dominant parties. So for them the third party serves as a vehicle to carry the banner of the pure ideology that is insufficiently represented by the two major parties. Note that I am using ideology here in the non-Kirkean sense, so my conservative friends don’t object, for lack of a better word. Also, by ideological third parties I mean in contrast to centrists or “good government” third parties, which are usually ostensibly about eschewing ideology.
People who view their participation in third parties through this lens are therefore going to focus on how well their party’s potential nominees represents the ideology they are seeking to advance, whether it be libertarianism, Constitutionalist conservatism or environmentally sensitive liberalism. A common tension seen within the parties is between the purists who seek pure ideologues and pragmatists who are willing to accept some lack of purity in order to nominate a “big name” or more mainstream candidate. (The point of pragmatist third party members, who have essentially disavowed pragmatism by joining a third party in the first place, has always been a bit lost on me, but that is a subject for a different essay.)
I am not knocking this conception of third parties. In fact, it is generally the way I view the role of third parties. But I would like to suggest that there may be another way to conceptualize the role of a third party, one that could be embraced when the opportunity presents itself, that makes a Ventura candidacy potentially very appealing.
All the ideological third parties agree that there is insufficient difference between the Republican and Democrat parties. In fact, they would broadly agree that the two major parties are both war, bankster, corporatists parties that prop up the Establishment at the expense of the common man. They just disagree on the direction reforms should take.
So if the common enemy is the current Regime, and if you believe that the current Regime must fall before meaningful progress toward your vision can be made, is it not feasible to see the current battle, for example, as less libertarian vs. statist and more outsider vs. Elite? And from this conception it could follow that it is less important in the grand scheme of things that your party’s candidate precisely represents your particular ideology and more important that he be able to actually strike a blow, both real and rhetorical, against the Powers That Be.
Viewed in this manner, perhaps the best candidate is not the one who most effectively combines ideological faithfulness and pragmatic concerns, but the one who could potentially make the most impact monkey wrenching the system. A candidate’s ability to monkey wrench the system is not the same as his electability, in fact, it likely renders him unelectable. But it is related to his ability to appeal to a mass audience and potentially peel off large blocks of votes.
This is where a candidate like Jesse Ventura comes in. There are a lot of important issues from the outsider perspective, whether right, left or libertarian – central banking, the monetary system, corporatism, etc. – but I would suggest that the most important outsider issue at the moment is foreign policy, because it is the issue that is the most imminent.
Unfortunately, the Federal Reserve and our funny money system aren’t going anywhere any time soon, nor is our entrenched economic system, but both Republican and Democrat members of the War Party are quickly trying to plunge us into potentially disastrous wars with Iran, Syria, ISIS and Russia, and this could potentially be averted, as escalation in Syria already was, by a large outcry from the masses. Since Ventura seems poised to focus on foreign policy, based on his video, and since he has become a face of opposition to war because of his lawsuit against Chris Kyle and the hysterical response of the jingoist caucus to it, Ventura is potentially the strongest anti-war and anti-Establishment statement that the LP could make right now.
Consider the impact of nominating Gary Johnson, who is no libertarian purist himself, again (ho hum) vs. the impact and statement made by nominating Jesse Ventura who would, if nothing else, shake things up in a way that would be uncomfortable for the Establishment. It is particularly important that non-interventionists have a spokesman representing our views this election cycle because Rand Paul seems to be quickly abandoning any pretense that he wants to be our standard bearer in the GOP. And the Democrats look poised to anoint the very hawkish Hillary Clinton despite a base that is supposedly anti-war. It remains to be seen how much traction Jim Webb can get in the Democrat primary, but my hunch is that he is a much less plausible Democrat nominee than Rand is a GOP nominee.
So give it some thought LP members and potential delegates. You might just join me in the cry of “Run Jesse Run!”
Dan Phillips is a blogger from Georgia. He often blogs about the Constitution, and sometimes about alternate parties.