Greenville Millennium Gazette Issue No. 7, Vol. 1; publisher and editor, Joel A. Wendt "...government in its best state is but a necessary evil, in its worst state an intolerable one..." Thomas Paine: Common Sense, published January 10th, 1776 NEWS ITEM, dateline: Oct 23, 1998, Greenville, New Hampshire Greenville Gazette Publisher, Joel A. Wendt announces candidacy for Presidency of U. S.
Today, Joel A. Wendt, publisher and editor of the internet newsheet, the Greenville Millennium Gazette, announced his candidacy for President of the United States. His remarks, given to the lightly attended news conference (only this reporter was present) are printed below.
It is with obvious egotism that I announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America. To put matters as bluntly as possible: If Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan can be President, then surely I can. Besides I need a good job, and I understand that this pays well. And last, but not least, it would greatly please my mother if I actually managed to amount to something.
Now you might think that the preceeding remarks are sarcastic, but that would be incorrect. I meant every single word, with a straight face. Please allow me to elaborate.
It is egotistic to seek this position in American Public Life. To pretend to humility would be very false, because for someone to think that they have the capacties to properly exercise the duties of this high office, requires that they have, at the very least, an equally high opinion of themselves.
The fact is that I know that I can do this job. Of course, in making this evalutation, I won't particularly agree with what many others might think are the necessary qualifications for this job. To put it in plainer terms: I have a very specific idea of what this job requires, and I know that I can fit into those shoes, shoes once worn by such as Washington, Lincoln, and other rather remarkable, yet very ordinary, men.
Of course, it is unfortunate that our public life requires of those who are to take the responsiblities of this high office, that they publicly declare themselves to have such capacities. The founders of our form of government did not intend that human beings undertake such naked posturing in order to obtain to high office. In fact, it was the intention of the founders, with their idea of the Electorial College, to have the President be selected by the considered evalution of those individuals who knew such a person personally.
We should examine this in some detail.
The founders of our government included some of wisest political minds ever to be found in the history of the human race. They were very thoughtful about all that they did. If they had not been, we would not have the enduring form of government we have today.
It was their view that the selection of the highest officers could not be properly done through the processes of direct election. While members of Congress, Senators and Congressmen, were to be directly elected, the President was not. It is precisely because of this matter of false humility and egotism that this principle was placed in our Constitution. Our founders understood that ambition was a human motive that had very dangerous side effects. For those whose responsiblities were to include highest office, our founders understood that something needed to interfer, both with the excesses of human ambition, and with the tendency of the mass of voters to be easily swayed by emotion, rather than reason.
In the halls of Congress, this problem was naturally dealt with because the membership of the two bodies was large, and in those places ambition would be offset by ambition. But in the office of the Presidency, ambition was a path to great excesses, excesses not unlike those belonging to the English King, from whom we had just managed to separate ourselves. A man who wanted to be King was a dangerous man. A man who wanted to be President was likewise dangerous.
So the Electoral College was invented as a way to guard against this naturally occuring human defect. Unfortunately, later politicians, for their own reasons, persuaded our People to set aside this wise principle and so we have today the public election of President, with all the attendent problems that entails. This has not been to the benefit of our public life.
In fact, no single other act has so enabled the office of the Presidency to be corrupted by the tyranny of concentrated wealth, than the removal of the constitutional process of the Electoral College.
It is my hope, if I am elected, to be the last popularly elected President. It would be my intention to work toward the return of our electorial processes to this forgotten wisdom, and to reinstitute this means of isolating once again this high office from the excessive ambitions of human beings and the manipulation of monied powers.
So, perhaps you can now see, that I know something of my own heart in this, such that when I characterize my seeking this high office as an egotistical act, I am admitting something that must be admitted. At the same time I am trying to bring about the reconsideration of that errosion of our Consitutional government that occured when the Electoral College was bypassed by the later unwise manipulation of corrupted politicians.
Yes, I can handle the duties of this office, but I am not happy to have to allow to live in my soul this excessive sense of self in order to attempt to discharge those duties in a way which takes our Nation away from these past errors.
Enough said on that!
The next matter I pointed to in my opening remarks was that if Clinton, Nixon and Reagan could hold this office, then surely I could. This statement, like the previous one on egotiism, needs to be elaborated.
Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar, and has directed himself, from the beginning, toward public life. Nixon was a lawyer, who likewise saw himself as capable of holding highest office. Reagan was an actor and and idealogue, who was preselected by monied powers to enter into our public life, first as Governor of California and then later as President. All the presidencies of these ambitious men are marred by corruption and scandal. Moreover, even though the first one listed, Clinton, is allegedly a Democrat, all these men served faithfully the desires of the tryanny of concentrated wealth.
Hopefully history will be wise enough to not be kind to the subtle treasons they have committed upon the American People and upon the world. In serving the dark god of profit, these men have participated in the creation of the worst of the dangers human beings face in these times of great peril. These men placed a free market ideology over an understanding of reality, ambition over service, and political gamesmenship over plain speaking. I, for one, no longer Consent to these abuses of our People.
So, you may have a legitimate question: What are my qualifications?
My past is checkered to be sure. Three marriages (twice to the same woman), five children that I know of, and over thirty different kinds of jobs. I had a serious problem with drugs in the late 1970's, which took most of the 1980's to taper off (I liked pot to excess and indulged in hallucinogens). There is very good reason for finding these facts to be sufficient to keep me from being elected.
But that understandable superficial judgment might be a mistake. I did spend three years at the United States Air Force Academy (1959 to 1962) and in 1965 received an honorable discharge from the United States Air Force. I left the Academy to get married, and subsequently finished an undergraduate degree at the University of Denver (B.A., 1964), with an emphasis on religion and philosophy. Following this I entered and finished Law School, attending the School of Law of the University of Montana, from 1964 to 1967, where upon graduation I received a Juris Doctor degree and was admitted to the Bar in Montana. Later, I passed and was also admitted to the Bar in Colorado.
I have had the following kinds of jobs (some more than once): track worker, Great Northern Railroad, night clerk, County vehicle registration office; supervisor, County assessors office, engineers aide, Highway Department; law clerk, private law firm; law clerk County Attorney's office; insurance adjuster, restaurant dishwasher, law clerk for a state Supreme Court justice; insurance management trainee and underwriter; temporary worker U.S. Post Office, self employed group counsellor; psychiatric orderly; manager pornographic movie theater; grill cook; house painter; house construction laborer; janitor; pantry chef; group home counsellor for adolescents; line cook; window washer; living history performer; mental health worker; and live in aide to a disabled person.
Having been born and raised in Great Falls, Montana, I have as basic elements of my character, certain qualities of the West. I am plain spoken and would rather use one word if five can be avoided. I believe, basically, in live and let live, as long as how you conduct your business doesn't interfer with mine. I'd rather trust people and give the shirt off my back to a stranger then be suspicious of everyone I meet. I believe there is a right thing to do, but that its up to the individual to decide for themselves what is right.
I am not a politician, a glad hander, or someone who is easily personable. I am basically shy and introverted, and while I have learned to speak in public, I can only speak about things I really believe in. To give a speech that wasn't from my heart would be impossible.
I like American Culture, movies, television, sports and barbecue. I don't like excessive salaries for play acting, profession sports or reading the news. I don't think executive officers of corporations deserve what they routinely pay themselves. It would be allright if these salaries came about from a source of wealth everyone could share in, but as long as there are poor, and homeless, and undernourshied and needy people in our country and in the world, then, as far as I am concerned, nobody needs a hundred and twenty suits, eight cars, three houses, and six servants. That is obscene.
Basically then I think I am as good as Clinton, Nixon and Reagan. Not better, certainly different, but, as a person, just as good, and just as humanly flawed.
I also think I know things they don't (or didn't), that I understand things they haven't tried to understand, and that I have a better sense of the direction our People should go in, than anybody in public life has had for generations. Moreover, I didn't set out trying to become what I have become. That is, I have not been driven by my ambition toward the goal of high office. Whatever qualties I have as a human being that might qualify me in the public's mind for this high office, came to me by the intervention of Providence, and not by my own ambition or desire. If anything drove me over the years it was a desire to understand the world in which I found myself living, and it has only been slowly over time that I have realized that my understanding meant that my ability to respond was of a certain nature, and that my gifts then came coupled with a responsiblity.
This is not to say I have no ambition. On the contrary, in my assessment of the world and of my own character, I have concluded that I can and should play a public role in the events of the End of the Twentieth Century. That could well be a unwarrented belief, and its pursuit is certainly ambitious. At the the same time, it might well be true that I can contribute. In my own inner life it has been a very difficult problem of conscience, whether to enter public life or not. I do not take this step lightly or easily, knowing full well that in spite of my education and self knowledge, my human flaws may well mean that I am blind to certain dangers and excesses involved in seeking to participate in our public life.
This means that I enter this so-called race for public office carrying a great deal of baggage, to which are attached certain unusual skills.
Having spent most of my working life among the lower middle class and working poor, I have a sense of things, drawn from personal experience, that is very different from the educated and economic elites who usually are drawn to seek public office. The view from down here is quite educational all in itself.
I have faced and entered bankrupcy. I have lived on welfare, and been paid under the table. I have lost jobs - been fired - sometimes with good reason. I know the despair of becoming dependent upon others, and the helplessness that goes with economic adversity.
Certain people feel that because of my education that I should have been able to obtain to higher levels of employment. Anyone who thinks that hasn't walked in my shoes.
Those who understand something about how character is really formed, realize that most often it is forged through struggles with adversity. Some such struggles involve matters outside one's self, and others involve struggles with one's own apetites and excesses. Having been an addict, and now being someone in recovery, gives a certain perspective on what is really involved within those communties where addiction is a problem, even a way of life. It is impossible to take some kind of superficial higher moral stance, as if somehow I was above such very human flaws. I know better, from experience.
This means that my character has a quality it would not have otherwise. Whether the America People will find that a positive or a negative is up to their own insight. All I am suggesting is that it be thought about, and it not automatically be a flaw that I have walked in certain places in life, places toward which politicians and media folks often pretend to having no intimate relationship.
As to my thoughts and views on many things public, most of that can be found in the issues of the Greenville Millennium Gazette, or on my website on the Internet.
The next remark from my intial comments that I would like to expand upon, is the one concerning my needing a good job. This is true. I have a certain amount of personal debt I need to eradicate (I am not very good at making ends meet), and it would be nice to have a job that paid well. I understand that the hours are long, and the responsiblitities often impossible, but, since I need a good job, I'm all for taking on the necessary tasks.
Perhaps I should say something about what I think this job entails.
It certainly is a job, and we would do well not to forget it. We have woven about our Presidents an excess of mystique. This is unfortunate. It is a kind of public illusion, and it is time to mature and get over it.
The President is not a saint, and should receive no adulation. On the other hand, the President is a human being, just like the rest of us, and should not be held to some kind of so-called higher standard. Let's expect the President to do his or her job. It would be nice if everyone just did their job, and we all got over this garbage of privilege and power. But, as we all know, politics, in the age of the tyranny of concentrated wealth, is not about taking care of the publics business. Politics is about power, and holding on to that power. That won't change until "We the People..." make it change.
Because of certain movements in history, particularly those connected to the gradual accretion of powers to the tyranny of concentrated wealth, the office of the Presidency has acquired powers it should not have, powers which have lead to its corruption.
As discussed in the Editorials in the Gazette, the diseased cycle connected to the popular election of the President and the necessary need for outrageous sums of money in order to accomplish this manipulation of the public mind using the modern powers of media, have resulted in forcing the Executive powers of our Nation to become unnaturally beholden to monied powers. Moreover, the need to manipulate the public mind, involves the Executive in a very time consuming process of public appearences, all centrally calculated to create the illusion that the current office holder is acting presidential (whatever that is).
What is worse is the abuse of the word, the abuse of language, made necessary by the political posturing this manipulation requires. The result is that politicians create in the public mind a picture of events and issues completely disconnected from reality. Since the Executive, being beholden to monied powers, must not put forward matters truthfully (or risk the displeasure of theses powers), the constant speech making only reinforces, again and again, certain conceptual illusions, whose belief in by the American People is one of the primary causes of the failure of our public life to solve any of our pressing social problems.
The langauge used is so untruthful, that it is impossible to form the needed public judgments about how to actually address these problems. Moreover, the Consent to this abuse of language by the media contributes greatly to this problem. If the media was to demand of the politician greater truthfulness and less posturing, then something much needed might take place. As it is, however, media tends to have its own axes to grind, and for both ideological and economic (profit making) reasons, also contributes to this abuse of language, and the creation of illusions in the public mind.
So what does this all have to do with my assessment of the nature of the job of being President of the United States of America?
The central matter which the Executive Office has before it is the articulation of what lies in hearts and souls of the American People. When the President speaks, the People should hear their own best self expressed.
Now politicians often try to do this, but the other needs, the need for posturing, for falsifying, for keeping hidden the real reasons things are done behind the scenes, these needs mean that the public dialogue becomes superficial and meaningless.
This being the case, the first aspect of this job, as I understand it, is to speak plainly about the real problems and dangers of the time, in such a way that the American People can feel, in their hearts, that finally the urgent matters of our communial existence are being understood.
Everything else follows from this.
In a sense, the President's articulation of these themes becomes the vision toward which the ship of State is directed.
Now one of the confusions that has arisen in the public mind, is that the Executive should initiate an agenda, which then is sought to be placed before the Legislative Branch for creation and implimentation. This, however, is a complete misunderstanding of the division of powers as set out through the wisdom of our founders.
Law making is the duty of the Legislative Branch. If the Public is not satisfied with the laws, then it is to the legislature that their displeasure should be directed.
As President this would be my approach - to expect the Legislative Branch to enact laws in accord with the vision, the vision living in the hearts of our People, but articulated by the President. Here are the relevant words from the Constitution:
Article II, section 3: "He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union and recommend to their consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expediant;..."
In our modern language: articulate the best self of our people and the direction in which the Ship of State should travel.
We have acquired the habit, encouraged by the manipulation of ambitious men, of thinking of the Executive as the initiator of an agenda, which then must be moved through the Legislative Branch. This is one of the means that has led to the excess of accretion of power in the Executive.
Through the power of the presidency to dominate the political party to which the President is reciprocally beholden, to a certain extent, the idea came to be accepted that the Executive was the initiator of public laws. The President's Party was then expected to manipulate the Legislative in order to realize this agenda. Naturally, of course, the minority Party was then forced to invent the confusion of rules that exist in the House and the Senate, which enable the minority Party to interfer with this unjustified attempt to rule the Legislative from the Executive.
This war, between the Executive and the Legislative, caused an imbalance in the division of powers, such that many pressing social issues were not being resolved. This worked to the advantage of the monied powers, who could then force through their agendas due to their ability to corrupt, but left the ordinary citizen no real voice. It was when this imbalance reached a certain crisis point that the Judicial Branch was infected with a corresponding element of this whole political disease. From this necessity, the impulse to Judicial activism was born.
The result is that the three Branches of our Government have fallen into habits and patterns of behavior quite at odds with the how the real processes should be carried out.
In this brief exposition of a somewhat complicated historical problem, I have endeavored to suggest how it is that the return of health to our Governement is not to be found in the mere election of a different Executive, but which must involve as well the replacement of large portions of the Legislative Branch office holders. But more importantly, it is necessary that we achieve the raising of the public dialogue to a level where these difficult problems can be articulated, understood and then acted upon in accord with the needs of our People.
Our People must no longer look to the Executive to lead legislative action. That duty lies with the Legislative itself. The Executive carries out these laws, but does not seek to force their coming into being through an exercise of Executive power. If the People do not take the responsiblity to demand of the Legislative Branch that it leave aside its habits of corruption, then it is not the responsiblity of the Executive to become the co-dependent enabler of this failure of the People and of the Legislative Branch of Government. In such a case, it is rather the duty of the Executive to point out these failures of political will, and to refuse to particpate in them or be responsible for them.
When a Presidential candidate makes promises to our people that certain legislative results will be accomplished during this candidates term of office, that candidate is lying; and, if the public buys that lie, then the failure is their responsibility. If the People refuse to participate, refuse to exercise the real power inherent in their capacity to Consent, then neither the Executive or the Judicial do our public life any favors by stepping into the breech.
If the People will not bother to see that the Legislative Branch is filled with office holders prepared to do the Peoples business, then the blame lies squarely with the People. As a presidential candidate I will not be a party to the continuation of this diseased process. It is the Legislative Branch that is the heart of our form of government, and it is really there that the healing of our Nation must be sought. A change in the Executive, uncoupled from a corresponding change in the Legislative, will do nothing at all.
I would like now to address the final theme of my opening remarks, concerning my wish to do something of which my mother would be proud.
It is not just my wish for my mother's happiness that leads to the expression of this intention. In thinking of my mother, in this context, and I am seeking to honor the past. The world I entered as a young man, and to which I now contribute to as a mature citizen, is a world that was cared for and managed by the generation that preceeded my own.
In pleasing my mother, in doing something that would make her happy, I need to be honoring the gifts that her whole generation have made to our communial existence. There must be continuity with the past, or we dishonor it. In the Judaic-Christian tradition this idea is placed so high as to be one of the Ten Commandments: Honor thy Father and Mother.
As much I as write and speak about the tyranny of concentrated wealth, and the need for its end, we cannot approach a just and equitable solution to this problem by failing to realize that previous generations have accomplished much. What we do must build upon that work, rather then tear it down and seek to replace it.
Continuity, not dis-continuity. Even the American Revolution, the violent drama that proceeded the creation of our Constitution, did not interrupt the necessary stream of continuity. Civilization has processes in it not unlike those of a living organism - cycles of birth and death, illness and health, stasis and metamophosis. In our age it is necessary to wake up to our participation in these processes and take hold of them in a conscious fashion.
Thus, to go beyond the limits of the age of the tryanny of concentrated wealth, is to act co-creatively in the evolution of human societies. Just as our forefathers made a giant step forward in the nature of Government, in the establishment of the Constitution, so it is with our generations that the possibility exists to further evolve human society toward those ideals and goals we know in our hearts are right.
Our goals may be radical, but the processes by which we seek to achieve them should not be. Violent revolution is not necessary, if we understand that our form of Government is, in fact, such that constant non-violent revolution is the normal order of the day. Every time we amend the Constitution we change fundamental processes.
One way to see this is to perhaps picture the American form of Government to be a living organic Being, who is trying to incarnate, to take form within human socieity. But this Being is of such a nature that it can only come into incarnation over time. It cannot enter into human society all in one step, but must slowly, over time, find its way into existence as a concrete structure within which human beings find the order required by their communal relationships.
So we are on the cusp of a new major step. We will not achieve the whole that is possible, nor need we try. Our goals can be more modest. I will endeavor to state them in the way that I understand them, subject of course to their better articulation over time as more and more people enter into the processes of public dialogue.
Limits need be set on the ability of concentrated wealth to corrupt the processes of Government. The citizen must evolve to a more ongoing conscious particpation in the processes of our Government - the act of Consent must intensify and become a public habit. The ideals which moved our founders, ideals concerning the rights of individuals and the duties of Governments toward such individuals, these ideals must be brought further into incarnation. This means that we cannot any longer tolerate those social dislocations that create homelessness, poverty and the abuses of freedom, and individual rights to economic opportunity, that take form in institutional racism. This is what I mean by social triage.
These are modest goals, and are interdependent in their realization. We accomplish them together or not at all. Moreover, we accomplish them by evolving our public life, by honoring the past and growing the future from the rich soil bequeathed to us by the passion and efforts of all those who have proceeded us.
These then are the thoughts I wished to place before you, my dear friends, as the articulation of a vision I believe we share in all our hearts.
If you find something of worth in them, then perhaps you will consider giving me the opportunity to serve you by contributing to our public life as a member of the Executive Branch of our form of Government, as your President.
Thank you for your kind consideration of my application for the opportunity to carry out this duty. Your trust and affections will go far in enabling me, or any other public official, to accomplish all that you have a right to expect from your public servants.
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