Vermin Supreme, dark-horse insurgent
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There's a twin book review by Jesse Walker over at Reason Magazine of Joe Trippi's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" and Richard Viguerie's "Americaâ€™s Right Turn: How Conservatives Used New and Alternative Media to Take Power." Both books address the huge growth in the power of online politics.
Walker speculates that "the next time someone does try to run as an independent, the Net will make his task a lot easier. The deeper question is whether such a candidate will be worthy of the crusade that coalesces behind him."
Now, casting aside objections such as the idea that no one is worthy of any crusade that coalesces behind them, or the line of thinking that produced Adlai Stevenson's famous maxim that "people get the government they deserve," the first point I draw is that the Net is making it easier and easier for colossal frauds and jokers worse than Ross Perot to have a shot at getting on a presidential ballot near you. Thank God.
It puts a bit of high school into the national political process. It will be morning in America when Vermin Supreme has equal footing with products of the Democratic and Republican Parties (Don't miss Vermin's brief introduction). And that can only have a remedial effect on the lack of authenticity in our national politics -- if the big candidates stay fake then Vermin won't look so bad.
Oh yeah, and anyone who wants to be president has a shot at it, thanks to the Net. I'm a believer in the idea that Howard Dean (whose campaign I worked on) did for presidential politics what Michael Jordan did for basketball -- inspired a lot of newcomers to play. Will we have independent candidates up the wazoo? I hope so. All they've got to do is figure out what they want to say.
Jan Frel is an AlterNet staff writer.