For months now, I’ve been having the best time watching Jesse Ventura butt heads with the blue suit/red tie political establishment in Minnesota and around the country.
There’s a lot to like about the guy. He’s colorful, unorthodox, and refreshingly bold–and I figure anything that gets the apathetic American public involved in the political process is a step in the right direction. And if his victory in the northeast serves to shake up the Democrats and Republicans, so much the better.
That was then.
Now? Well, perhaps all the talk of him as the next President of the United States has gone to his head, I don’t know. Whatever the reason, he’s devolved into more of a sideshow than a political hero. There was a time when I wondered if California would ever have someone that engaging in Sacramento; nowadays it’s all I can do keep the self-loathing at bay for having ever harbored such a thought in the first place.
I’m starting to feel sorry for the people of Minnesota–at least, the 63% of them that cast their vote for another candidate. Which brings to mind one of the problems with the Reform Party (or any substantial third party, for that matter): it dilutes the power of the victor. This has it’s good points, but in the case of Ventura in ’98 or Clinton in ’92, it leaves the winner to govern an electorate that by and large didn’t want that candidate in office in the first place. You can see this in the extreme in places like Japan and Israel, where political power is split among so many parties that governments cannot exist except in the form of uneasy coalitions which shatter like safety glass at the first sign of strain.
Wasn’t Ross Perot enough of a poster child for bad behavior on the campaign trail? Was anyone able to keep count of exactly how many times he left and re-entered the race for President in 1992? Say what you will about the two major parties, but at least give them credit for always staying in the campaign, no matter how badly they were about to be beaten. Sadly, Governor Ventura shares a penchant for the same style of condescension toward voters and the media that Perot has exhibited for years.
And what’s with the Playboy interview? Move over, Howard! There’s a new shock-jock in town. Ventura’s recent rant that “organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers” reminds one that his tenure in St. Paul has thus far consisted of a never ending lecture on His Majesty’s opinions and beliefs, no matter how far removed from relativity. Honesty may be the best policy, but even that axiom has its limits and he’s rolling right over them. I suppose it wouldn’t rub me the wrong way if I could see some relationship between the comments on religion and breast size to his job as governor.
There’s no denying that the antics of Perot, Trump, Ventura, and Buchanan make for entertaining politics. But I, for one, prefer to get my laughs at the circus, not the capitol. Sorry Jesse, you’re just not ready for prime time.