Plugging Myself

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9, 2000

many papers are not carrying my column – for the duration of
my campaign for vice president on the Constitution Party ticket
– and most subscribers receive it by e-mail, a few newspapers
still run it. And one well-disposed editor has raised a point that
has probably occurred to other readers.

The question
is whether I should use this column to plug my own candidacy or
that of my estimable running mate, Howard Phillips. As a rule I’d
agree that I shouldn’t, and I usually avoid doing so. But on
a few recent occasions I’ve mentioned it in passing, and I
should explain why.

Why I should
be king

First, let
me acknowledge the obvious: Howard and I have about as much chance
of winning as I have of pitching in this year’s World Series.
The party has almost no money, name recognition, or television access.
It’s all we can do to get on the ballot: the two major parties
maintain tight control over the rules, which they use to prevent
competing parties from threatening their duopoly. Antitrust legislation
doesn’t apply to politics, where it is most needed. This is
an area where politicians forget to demand “campaign reform.”

I feel duty-bound to remind the world that we exist. In a better
world – a Frank Capra world – my little peeps might lead
to a word-of-mouth brushfire that would sweep the nation, as ordinary
Americans realized that they’re living under a lawless government
in the most literal sense: a government that disregards the fundamental
law of the Constitution. And they would rise up, in a fine populist
fury, and cast it off.

Alas, the world
we live in doesn’t work that way. Political “folk heroes”
like John McCain always turn out to have a lot of powerful connections
– and money.

I didn’t
enter this campaign with the expectation of winning – chilling
thought! Becoming vice president would be an intolerably tedious
interruption of my writing career. It’s the other way around:
I regard the campaign as an extension of my mission as a writer
– to evangelize for the forgotten principles of the Constitution.
If we win, wonderful! If not, we’ve at least offered our country
a chance to return to its roots.

So I have no
wish to bore my readers with campaign propaganda. I don’t want
my columns to sound like stump speeches; in fact, I’m afraid
my stump speech sounds a little too much like my columns, more analytical
than inspirational. The Tenth Amendment, my favorite topic, doesn’t
seem to fire anyone’s blood but my own. So far I’ve been
unable to start a riot by quoting it verbatim. As a demagogue I’m
an utter failure.

Whatever it
takes to make a successful politician, I just don’t seem to
have it. I can’t pretend I feel everyone’s pain. I don’t
have solutions for all their problems. I don’t feel generous
pledging to spend other people’s money on them. I hate to insult
their intelligence with extravagant promises. I don’t even
feel that their lives are necessarily empty without me.

At the risk
of sounding immodest, I believe I’d actually make a rather
good king. After all, the best kings were a lot like me. They knew
they hadn’t done anything to deserve their power, so they used
it sparingly. They didn’t have big dreams, didn’t try
to remake their societies from top to bottom, didn’t promise
their subjects the moon. Even their wars were mostly skirmishes,
by modern standards.

Unlike Woodrow
Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and others I could name, kings didn’t
talk a lot of utopian rot; in a democracy, you hear nothing else.
And compared with modern governments, most kings kept taxes low.
Americans paid far less under George III than under today’s
government. Blasphemous as it may seem to say so, they were freer
than we are. King George didn’t care a hoot whether you smoked
or how much water your toilet tank held. That’s how I would
try to be.

All this may
seem irrelevant, since I’m seeking the vice presidency, not
(at this point, anyway) the monarchy. But I want to assure my readers
and editors that if a crown were ever offered to me, they’d
have no cause for alarm.

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