As this stranger-than-usual US political season comes to a close (highlighted by some stranger-than-usual candidates), I thought I'd put this in context by drawing attention to an event that occurred thirty years ago this week, which might help explain the present situation.
Two days after the 1980 US Presidential election, won by Ronald Reagan, I went on national television to introduce myself as a "neo-independent" candidate for US President for 1984. (I thought I'd get an early start.)
The results of my campaign? Though I ran without the support of a political party and spent just a few hundred dollars, I won only one less state than Democratic nominee Walter Mondale, who spent $27 million in his losing bid to Ronald Reagan.
Here's an edited clip of my appearance on NBC's Tomorrow Show, hosted by Tom Snyder.
While US Presidential candidates have campaigned for decades on the importance of fiscal restraint, how many have modeled it in their campaign? I learned from my rock & roll days—when I lived on $2.50 a day—how to stretch a dollar.
But more importantly, my campaign introduced a new breed of American politician who could soar above the clang and clatter of the public square, with a mind uncluttered with details, unencumbered by data, unbiased by facts.
I was able to transcend any limitations of knowledge, education, and—some would say—character in order to reawaken an archetypal dream of a simpler America, where simple words (if repeated thousands of times) are all we need to grasp simple truths.
Based on the returns from today's elections it's clear that this political formula is finally succeeding. In fact my campaign motto of thirty years ago—Ask not what money can do for you, ask what you can do for money—seems to resonate more poignantly with the values of today.
So now we have a new wave of public servants and political aspirants, including a possible Presidential candidate for 2012, who have committed to memory my blueprint for success. Do we celebrate this moment? Or do we hide the children?