Assuring his online followers that he’s “going to win by not playing their game,” Drew Curtis — the man behind offbeat news aggregating website Fark.com — has announced he’ll run for governor of Kentucky, an office that’s up for grabs this November.
Curtis wrote directly to Fark regulars to make his announcement, explaining that he wants to demonstrate that people can overcome their frustration with a broken, money-controlled two-party system — if only more people would stop complaining and start doing.
That’s a terribly optimistic belief, one Curtis appears to understand may prove naïve. But “[i]f one million people can call the FCC and back Net Neutrality, surely I have a chance,” he wrote Monday. “The best part is, win or lose, I’m going to help produce the blueprint to allow other people to run for office and win without party support.”
Here’s the relevant portion of the piece:
Why I’m doing this
A friend of mine inspired me to take the shot. After having deeply negative interactions with a local elected official, and finding out she wasn’t alone in that experience, she decided that the only solution was to run for office. She had no political aspirations, no prior experience, and no idea how to even pull it off. But someone had to step up and do something about it, and she did. And this past November, she won the election.
It was incredibly inspiring. Rather than just accept that ineffective government is a way of life, she actually did something about it.
I never wanted to run for office. Like most of us I have a pretty strong dislike for the political process. Just getting elected is an insanely complicated and difficult. Why would anyone want to put themselves through that?
I don’t remember who it was or when it happened, but about a year ago I was complaining about the lack of good candidates one night when a friend challenged me. People who are capable of running for office and winning have no right to complain about the system when they have the ability to change it. If I sit back and do nothing, I’m at least partially complicit.
Like many of us I’m deeply disturbed by what’s happening in politics today. Thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, the amount of influence money in politics has increased exponentially. It’s a windfall for the two political parties, but the effect on government has been catastrophic. Politicians won’t make any decisions based in research and logic. If elected officials make decisions that go against their campaign donors they risk being blacklisted by their own party – and their entire political future.
Take the issue of Right to Work. A democrat could never pass it, and a republican could never veto it. Neither would ever look into the data to try to figure out if this law was even a good idea. Worse, neither would ever look into the unintended consequences of their actions.
Money is the only criteria for legislation these days. In the last Federal Spending Bill, not only did someone insert a regulation-defeating amendment written by Citibank, but they also increased the amount of money one individual can donate to a political party in a given year to $324,000 – a 10x increase.
The only way to fix this is from within. So I’m taking my shot. I’m running for Governor because if I get elected, the vicious cycle of influence money in politics grinds to a halt. Corporations are remarkably predictable – they won’t spend money on politics unless it has a chance of creating a beneficial return. Why would any corporation spend money on legislation in a state where they can’t buy the Governor? The game would be completely disrupted.
So that’s what this is about – trying something new. And proving that normal people can run for elected office and win. If one million people can call the FCC and back Net Neutrality, surely I have a chance. The best part is, win or lose, I’m going to help produce the blueprint to allow other people to run for office and win without party support.
I’m not starting a movement, I’m catching a wave. In 2014 a number of people in a number of states tried something similar. There weren’t many successes, but there were a lot of close races – enough to make me think this is part of a greater pattern. Good people who have never contemplated politics are jumping into races. And I’m hoping we’ll see a lot more people take an Independent shot in 2016.
The Kentucky Governor election is this year, 2015. It gives me a full year to try out all new strategies.
Here’s the first new strategy: I’m going to win by not playing their game.
I am not a politician.
One thing that people have been asking is where I stand on “the issues”. I’m still working up a response to that, mainly because I think it’s the wrong question. Political parties use “the issues” as weapons of mass distraction. If any of the really difficult political questions were solvable we’d have done it already. Besides, I’ll be an unaligned Governor with no ability to submit legislation. And Kentucky’s Legislature is currently split, which I think is a great thing.
I really want people to think in terms of solutions. For example, someone asked me where I stood on the issue of equal pay for women. Who would be against that? However the problem there is what’s the mechanism? What law could we pass that would solve that problem? I would much rather people provide me with solutions – preferably ones that have worked in other states.
I don’t have “beliefs” on issues of economics. I’m more or less agnostic on social issues. And I’m far more excited about retooling the executive branch to better interface with customers than anything else. The boring stuff is the most important stuff. It doesn’t grab headlines but it’s the part of being Governor I really want to sink my teeth into.
The only fringe idea I have is that Government could work better.
As you can see, there’s a lot of idealism and hopefulness in Curtis’ tone, and his belief that an unaffiliated governor can thwart the moneyed interests that drive legislative matters is, well, a happy belief.
But for his sake, here’s hoping that Curtis understands how unpleasant his life in the governor’s mansion could be, should he win and live up to his incorruptible ideals. Corruptible people can be bought — it’s how the process of lawmaking works.
As for the truly incorruptible? They tend to die in accidents.