I figure that, with less than a month before people cast ballots, I’d do a gimmick series, a ten-part series on why I’d never win a presidential election, even if I decided to run, being the requisite 35 years old, in 2012. I’ve not done such a series before (that I remember), but they look like fun, so why not? If people like it, I might do another some time. If not, I’ll chalk it up as a mistake and go back to my usual format. If you happen not to like it, I do apologize, but I have written up all ten parts already, each to go live on a different day, so you’ll have to wait until relatively deep into October before I start publishing my normal material again.
And just so people don’t think I’ve gotten delusions of grandeur, I never really had aspirations to be president. When I was little I wanted to be an astronaut, and when I got to be a teenager I wanted to be a general, and now I want to be a professor, but this series is a means by which I can reflect on presidency and presidential campaigns, not an invitation for “I’d vote for you!” comments. Each of these reasons I’d never win a presidential election is, as the discerning among you probably don’t need to be told, a commentary and vehicle for reflection on politics and electoral campaigning in the twenty-first.
But you can put those “I’d vote for you” comments on here if you absolutely must. Certainly my vanity would enjoy them. Now on with the post.
I realize that the major parties’ candidates are more pervasive on the Internet than ever before, each hosting entire Facebook-style communities on which each supporter can maintain her or his very own blog, but I actually write my own material. I’ve done so since 2004, and one can type in a simple web address and have access to some of my thoughts from a good portion of my adult life. Nobody was looking over my shoulder and checking my thoughts against poll data, and nobody was telling me to “Stay on Message” (campaign-manager code for “don’t say more than a few words that aren’t part of the official talking points”). Therefore if I ever got any real attention from the SCLM, not to mention the blogosphere, I’d be toast. People could find phrases from my posts on Plato, passages from my musings on education, and a host of other reasons to paint me as a lunatic. (I am mostly a lunatic anyway, if Washington defines sane.) I even admit sometimes to moral shortcomings on this site. In 24-hour news terms, that’s not a compelling “narrative”; that’s out-of-control talk, campaign suicide, screaming “Yeeagh!” after the Iowa primary sort of material.
My thought life, in other words, is not a tabula rasa for the advertisers, something that a political party could define in strategy meetings and present as a polished comic book superhero story in a party convention. It’s already public, and nobody can change that now. What political philosophy and personal convictions I’ve developed over the last four years are there (I hope eight by 2012), and if I thought that something stunk in 2005, my wrinkled nose will still be there in 2012. All of my second-guesses and beginnings without conclusions and flat out bad ideas are here for the parsing. I tend to think that most thinking human beings are prone to some such things, but that would never do for a Web 2.0 presidential candidate (we might be up to Web 3.0 by then), and that’s precisely what I have done.