I thought about leaving this blank for a long time, just to make people wonder. But, I
decided that I would take the high ground and acknowledge them.
Okay, first the official political, public statement:
I think the other candidates have a great number of strengths and skills that will make
a great contribution to this nation throughout my administration.
Now that I've stopped giggling, I'll tell you what I really think (in addition to the
The other candidates are all people I have long admired and respected. I have
only one complaint about any of them, and I'll get to that.
I have to say, first of all though, that I agree with Al Sharpton, that's it's time to
"slap the donkey". It's amazing how easy it is to look at the business of this
nation and call it business as usual. It's easy to get lulled into the "don't rock
the boat" mentality, and find yourself trapped, taking a position you only
mildly agree with because you think it will bring support for something later.
As I told a senator who passed the Bush Clear Skies Initiative - admitting it was a bad
policy but being promised the possibility of highway construction loans in exchange.
I'm all for highway construction, but when you see the hypocrisy of the arrangement
- my response to that senator was that I didn't appreciate their endorsement of
legislation that would make the air I breathe dirtier in order to gain funds to build more
highways that would make the air I breathe even dirtier. It just doesn't sound like a good
idea to me.
That, by the way, is not a Democratic or Republican problem, that's a Democracy
problem. But, it is pervasive, deceptive and destructive. And, it's a trap that I
believe our government has fallen into. There are bits of quid-pro-quo going on - not
illegally - that some would call politics: I think of it more like progressive coercion.
Adlai Stevenson, whom I admire a great deal, said "to get along you have to go
along". I can accept that to an extent. And, it's most times a good policy for
administrators and followers and employees, but not always true for leaders.
There's a reason people liked Paul Wellstone. He spoke his mind. He was not
afraid to be passionate, and he often said things that weren't popular (at least in the
media), but you knew he would stand up for principles that empowered everyone who heard
him. People didn't always agree, but they knew where he stood, and people trusted him to
be candid. People knew he would always take a stand for human and civil rights.
I would likely have not made the choice to run for president had I believed that the
Democrats, particularly the ones previously elected and infused in the "inside the
beltway" mentality, were willing to speak their minds and cause open public debate of
You may think I am trying to be critical, but I am not. Consider that my contribution
to "slapping the donkey." It's time to break out of the box. Settling for
"what we know we can do" is not leadership.
Consider that the most essential part of communication is listening, and remember that
every person, old and young, rich and poor, have a right to be represented and a right to
be heard, and a right to have their issues addressed. Whether they vote or not. Whether
they're on the losing side or not.
By listening, you can empower citizens like never before, because they know what they
need, and they usually know how to make it happen. Empower them. And, I do not
intend to imply that I agree with the concept of turning responsibility for everything
over to the states and to privatization. The federal government needs to be responsible
for its citizens.
And, then, remember that the citizens who may seem like an annoyance, pay for the
privilege of voicing their annoyance. You volunteered for the job. They hired you. They
are not simply disgruntled, they are citizens with an appropriate right to speak out.
Who are you being that they would be disgruntled?
I could say much more. But the one thing I think is most important is that it's time to
"burn the box"... it's time to reach for the stars. It's time to say what
actually needs to be done, to define a real vision, and not just sell inadequate patch
jobs to problems and futures that even "regular people" know need to be done.
People always ask, will you support the nominee of the party, and the truth is. most
likely. But, the bottom line is, when I go to the polls to vote for a president, I'm
voting for a candidate to lead America, not a party.
I don't care what party a candidate is in. And, regardless of the outcome, I always
vote for the person I believe will do the best job. Of course, that's usually a Democrat.
But, they still have to earn it.
I like the idea that to be President you don't have to be great, but you need to have
the possibility of greatness. And, great does not mean showmanship. It's in your
heart and soul.
That's what I look for in a President. That's what I challenge the other candidates to