Wednesday, November 04, 1998 8:40 PM

The results on the Minnesota Election are in, and Jesse "The Body" Ventura, who was the reform party candidate is the new Governor of Minnesota. People like local news anchor Don Shelby and national anchor Dan Rather echo the standard shock and bemusement the people in the beltway are feeling, with Rather saying, "People couldn’t be more shocked by Abraham Lincoln riding into Washington DC on a hippo," during national election coverage.

As I’m driving home, I’m listening to the Republican Party Chairman huffing about this is just people voting for a celebrity who’s not even a real athlete. Then I hear the Democratic Party Chairman huffing about how people are throwing away their votes. Then, the announcer comes on and say that this was a vote for none of the above and how people weren’t voting for Jesse Ventura but against Peter Whitebread-Stepford candidate on the right and Joe Whitebread-Stepford candidate on the left. Now, as Dennis Miller often says, I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but when I cast my ballot, I wasn’t voting against someone, I was voting for someone, and I guess that makes the two major parties as mad as Rosie O’Donnell when she doesn’t get the biggest piece of cheesecake.

You see, back a long time ago, you could actually have things like conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans, and people were generally happy with their Congressman. Sure, they hated Government (even though we’re told this is a new phenomenon...hating your leaders is as old as lighting farts, it’s been around since we discovered fire) but they liked their guy. Somehow, something changed and the parties polarized. Maybe it was the 60’s, since the Republicans say that everything horrible in our lives came from the 60’s and it’s a nice convenient place to lay blame. Although, when I think about it, the 60’s gave us some great TV shows like The Brady Bunch, Space Ghost and My Mother The Car. OK, so My Mother The Car sucked, but you know what I mean.

Now, the Republicans are so right leaning that they think that Family Values is the right to know what their next door neighbor is doing. The Democrats are running hard to keep up, and trying to figure out what they can say that doesn’t sound like big government. So, the political debate in this country has become ferocious stands on issues that no one can really be against. Most of the media is no help. For all the talk of the liberal media, the philandering mayor who gives big businesses a record amount of corporate welfare (to the tune of half a billion dollars on just a free stadium for a privately owned hockey team) who started using conservative rhetoric because the polls told him that during years of low voter turnout the religious right drives the vote won the support of every radio station and all but one newspaper in Minnesota. If the liberals control the media, they must have been sleeping when the endorsements were made.

The politicians in their ads take deep, meaningful stands meant to offend no one, while their speeches are geared to hit a single voting block at a time.

"I believe in the family!"

Who doesn’t? If you’re for being able to sleep with anyone you want and not having to deal with the consequences, you’re not going to be in politics, you’ll be playing for the NBA.

"I believe in lower taxes!"

Another bold stand. You know, I’ve found that all politicians are for lower taxes, but only for certain groups...the ones who gave them campaign money. Is it just me, or the fact that the last Republican tax cut was for corporate heads who get paid in stock options and married couples who earn over $100,000 a nice way to repay them for their votes?

"I want to get government out of your life!"

Unless we want it in our lives. We want government out of our lives, but keeping bad TV shows from our kids. We want government out of the schools, but more testing and funding. We want government out of our lives, but the roads suck and there aren’t enough cops and why are those rat-bastards in Washington doing anything about it?

When faced with extremists on the right and the left, most people just decide to go home and watch cable. If you are the kind of person who is pro-choice but wants to keep people from dumping toxic waste in the environment, you’re screwed. If you’re the kind of person who believes in Union representation but thinks that it’s not a great idea to control guns, you’re screwed. Matter of fact, if you aren’t buying ad time for the candidate, he won’t take your calls anyway, so you’re screwed no matter what.

The other problem is that campaigns are run by the same people who are trying to sell us toilet paper that’s quilted and three bladed razors,. The main objective of advertising is not to offend people, but make them think that what you have is the greatest thing ever. The candidates are packaged the same way, giving speeches that have been tested more than a fifth grader who rides the short bus, with quick little catch phrases that sound good without saying a damn thing. When someone comes on the scene and actually says something of worth, they are either ignored because it can’t be fit into a ten second ad or ridiculed on how stupid they are for offending whatever constituency only votes for people based on a single issue.

When the Republicans ran a failed TV anchor for Senator here in Minnesota who parroted the party platform like one of those Yak boxes my 10 year old records the sound of a toilet flushing to be replayed at random embarrassing intervals, no one even thought to pull the camera back and see who was working his strings. No one brought up the fact that he got fired for doing a bad job at a station that was dead last in the news ratings. They talked about what a brilliant strategist he was even though he was elected with less than 25% of eligible voters even bothering to cast votes, let alone chose him and his prefect blow dried hair and his empty blow dried brain.

This year, however, Jesse Ventura, former Navy SEAL, former Pro-wrestler, former mayor of Brooklyn Park and current talk radio show host decided to throw his hat in the ring with the Reform Party. He said he wouldn’t take a penny of PAC money. His positions were on the radio on his show for the last three years, so people knew where he stood. Not a single one of his ads were attack ads. He was a fiscal conservative and a social liberal, and didn’t speak in the same pre-packaged sound bites supplied to him by a marketing group. He was the only candidate who had ever held a job outside of government.

Sure, he was a pro-wrassler, but if you worked for Verne Gagne in the 70’s, there were nights where Verne would come into the locker room and tell the wrasslers that there wasn’t enough money to pay them and they’d worked for free, so he knows what it’s like to earn a living and probably what it’s like not to know where his next paycheck is coming from. Neither of the other two lifetime politician can make that claim.

Where does he stand on the issues? I hate to say it, but if you pay attention, he’s really easy to listern to. He’s talked about every law passed by the legislature from personal water craft to education...and it’s pretty hard to duck an issue when you don’t pre-screen your calls.

People weren’t voting against the other parties. People were voting for someone who said the same things they’d been saying for years, but no one was listening. And it makes the two parties furious. They’ll spend the next few weeks and months trotting out the talking heads to "put the election in perspective" and telling us why we voted that way as if we were unable to ascertain our own motives.

That suits me just fine, because it means next time, when we reject the same old right/left debate for someone who decides that there a place in the middle, they’ll be shocked again. And we’ll win again. And eventually, we’ll get some people in office who don’t owe their souls to owners of baseball teams who contributed to their campaign for a new stadium, or the CEOs of National Toxic Waste Inc who would like it if we could store some of their crap in the Boundary Waters. And you know what? I don’t care if that person used to write fake news items, read comic books and was attracted to women with jet-black raven or flaming red hair and pale skin as long as they say a few things I agree with and has good reasons for saying the things I don’t, I’ll support them for actually leading us somewhere.

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