Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The 'Why Not Me?' Effect

When I worked for Al Franken a few years back, I helped him on a book he was writing called "Why Not Me?" which was a satirical account of Al's decision to run for President of the United States. The book is essentially his campaign diary and journal of his 144 days in office before impeachment, but the preamble explains why he decides to get into the race in the first place. His idea is that since the people who run for elected office in this country are generally incompetent, ineffective boobs at best, and hateful, fear mongering demagogues at worst, surely I, Al Franken, a well-educated SNL alum could do no worse--I can be both an incompetent boob and a demagogue--so hey, why not vote for me?

In retrospect the book, a frighteningly prescient tome on the state of politics today, can be seen as a playbook for many of those seeking office now, or who have, say, sought an oval office in the past two elections. The book must have also in some way served as inspiration to Richard Grayson, a self-described "emo-loving vegetarian short story writer" who, in 2004, ran against a right-wing incumbent in Florida's most Republican congressional district.

Grayson sounds much like a candidate this R of R&R would support since he favored abortion on demand, gay marriage, and immediate withdrawal from Iraq. (The vegetarian stuff I find distasteful, but that's just cause this blue state girl still really loves her red meat.) Grayson also chronicled his hopeless run in a campaign diary for McSweeneys, and has just published the book, Diary of a Congressional Candidate in Florida's Fourth Congressional District, describing the events.

Of course what makes this all the more amusing to me personally is that not only has Al's brand of "I can at least be as good as this moron" politics now seems to have some real reverberations, and that he, too, has another book out today, The Truth (with Jokes), BUT that he's actually taking his own satire seriously: He's literally moving to Minnesota because he's very seriously considering running for Senator of the United States of America.

Though part of me is, of course, tickled by this, another part--the part that realizes leaders currently in office are incompetent fabulists themselves--is somewhat horrified. But if there's a lesson to be drawn from Al or from Richard Grayson, perhaps it's this: maybe I should take my righteous rage to the ballot box and write in the name of another equally unqualified candidate -- my own... Yeah, that's the ticket!


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