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Subject:  Re: Nader nadir Date:  7/11/2000  4:44 PM
Author:  WonderPup Number:  4574 of 27876

This all might have converted me to Nader, whom the ironically liberal/mostly status quo media are just blasting these days.

The ONLY chance Nader has is if he can convince someone to include him in the debates, IMO.

It's not really because the average American watches the debate. It's simply because getting on the same stage as the others lends him credibility as a candidate, instead of being some "fringe third party candidate."

What strikes me is how similar the 2000 Presidential race is to the 1998 gubernatorial in Minnesota. If that statement doesn't get your attention, nothing will.

Here in Minnesota a few years ago, we had a governor at the end of his term. (No term limits here; he simply decided not to run again.) Arne Carlson wasn't as scandal-ridden as Bill Clinton, but his popularity was high.

Running for the Dems was Skip Humphrey. A "career politician" who had a long standing family tradition of public service. He was coming off a decent stint as state Attorney General. He was boring, uncharismatic, and tagged with being a lifer. Very much like Al Gore is perceived.

Running for the Reps was St. Paul mayor Norm Coleman. Much more personable. People weren't sure how much they could trust him, though, since he switched parties a few years ago. Everyone then saw it as naked ambition. He was also a career pol, who came off warmer than Humphrey, but people weren't sure whether he was really ready to be in charge. A Dubya analogy.

So what happened? Voter apathy was at an all-time high. The "damned-if-ya-do, damned-if-ya-don't" attitude was prevalent here.

Along comes this goofy former pro-rasslin' radio talk show DJ. He isn't the brightest bulb in the pack, but hey, at least he is making things interesting. Gee, cute little booth at the state fair--lots of people there, ya know.

For the longest time, Jesse was nothing but a joke. He fought like crazy to get included in the debates. He was ignored for a while, but finally, the barbs of "what are you afraid of?" thrown at the big boys sunk in. Jesse got his stage.

Jesse was fabulous in the debates. His greatest gift was his refusal to listen to the other two spew lines. He digged at them with lines about being "career politicians living off the public trough" and basically refused to play the game.

The press loved this stuff. Of course, most people never saw the debates, but they didn't need to. The "Best of Jesse" sound bytes showed up on morning drive time radio, the nightly news, and the front page of the paper. Jesse started getting the buzz. He wasn't really saying anything different than he had before, but this time, he said them on stage, in front of a media crowd, and right to the face of his opponents. Simply being in the debates turned the tide, from my viewpoint.

All of a sudden, lots of people who were going to vote Dem or Rep simply because they deplored the candidate less than they deplored the rival Rep or Dem, suddenly turned to Jesse. "Can't be any worse than the other two" was a common theme.

His polls rose into the low teens. Suddenly, this rise justified his presence in the debates. The other two had hoped to be rid of him after the first, but Jesse's gaining popularity made it harder and harder to drop him. More sound bites made the news, and the snowball was rolling. And ya'll know how it ended up.

AlGore and Dubya are equally dry candidates. Watching those two debate will be a joke--lots of rhetoric will be spoken, no real point conveyed. A good, lively third party candidate in the debates would enrich the debates, as long as that person was willing to challenge the status quo. Nader, while not as purely charismatic as Jesse, still has a chance to pull that off. If he can get on the same stage, do well enough to get people talking about him, and get some press, he stands a chance. Not a guarantee, mind you, but a chance. But without the stage, his act will go unnoticed.

A few interesting side-topics regarding Jesse:
* Everyone wants to comment about how the only reason he won was because of young voters who voted for him just because they thought it was cool to have a pro wrestler running. Fact: He carried every age demographic below 65, and every income demographic below $100,000/year. (I'd cite a source, but I can't find a weblink. Old articles in the Mpls. StarTribune could do it.)
* In my opinion, Jesse's greatest accomplishment as governor has gone unnoticed. The old system had the governor making all the decisions and had a bunch of figureheads heading the variouis offices/departments. Jesse basically acknowledged that he didn't have the knowledge to do this, so he named his department heads, gave them both the responsibility and the authority to run things themselves, and got out of their way. This is the big reason Jesse can go running around refereeing WCW matches and showing up on soap operas. He's shown just how unnecessary a governor really is.

All of this isn't a perfect analogy to the presidential race, but the underpinnings are there. It is also a simplistic summary of Why Jesse Won. But, I'll be interested to see if a lively candidate can get enough respect to be put on the same stage as Al and George.

--WP
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