After twenty-five years I guess it's time I come out of the closet on this one: I was an independent candidate for United States President for 1984.
It began as a sociological experiment of sorts, to test the premise that any American citizen can—and has the right to—run for US President, even a rock musician. In fact, I immediately discovered that it doesn't cost a dime to run for national office. (It costs a tad more to win, however.)
It proved easy to grab media attention for my "Everyman candidacy" as the news corps desperately pursued any storyline it could find in an otherwise tediously dreary campaign, dominated by the likes of incumbent Ronald Reagan and challenger Walter Mondale.
My campaign motto seemed to connect with working folks: "Ask not what money can do for you, ask what you can do for money"—and my alternative campaign was underway.
I appeared on radio and TV too many times to remember, was interviewed in dozens of newspapers and magazines including Rolling Stone, and was endorsed by celebrities and media personalities from Regis Philbin to Tom Snyder. My campaign story was even the basis for a screenplay by David Crane and Marta Kaufman, "Only in America" which unfortunately has not made it to the silver screen yet. (Crane and Kaufman were the creators and writers of the smash NBC TV series, Friends.)
All in all, a wonderfully illuminating experience, which I highly recommend to others with similar delusions of grandeur.
In the end I pulled out a hard-fought moral victory (though Reagan technically won the election). Second-place finisher Mondale, despite spending wheelbarrows of cash, won only one more state than I did. (It's true—you can look it up.)
My campaign cost only a few hundred dollars, setting a bold standard for fiscal restraint in US presidential races—a standard still unsurpassed in modern American politics. After paying off my campaign debt, I quietly retired from public life, entered a twelve-step program for managing my addiction to politics, moved onto management consulting, and never looked back.
The lighter side of my campaign was captured in this 1984 rock video, "The Running Game," directed and produced by Mark Pines—whose directing credits include work with the Rolling Stones ("Time Is On My Side," "Tatoo You") and Jackson Browne ("Lawyers In Love").
The video was shot one beautiful autumn day in Saxton's River and Bellows Falls, Vermont. The music was produced by AJ Gundell, winner of eleven Emmy awards.
Famed studio bass-player Will Lee, from the David Letterman Band, can be heard on the band track. "The Running Game" was also the title of my campaign journal, which was excerpted in Harper's Magazine in 1984 and—I'm happy to report—is still selling in triple digits.
Is there a business lesson here? Let me know if you find one.