The Iowa caucus is being held tonight starting at 7 P.M. local time, which means that those of us here on the east coast will have to wait until 10 or 11 to find out who a small percentage of the tiny population of an isolated midwestern state have deemed worthy to continue their presidential campaigns. The Iowa caucus is the traditional start of the primary election season, and serves as the perfect prologue to the New Hampshire primary, scheduled for January 8 this time around, when a small percentage of the population of a tiny northeastern state will winnow the field of candidates even further in preparation for the next few months when, after the media and the two major parties have already made up their minds who the nominees should be, the rest of the American people get to vote.
If you’re like me and are unaffiliated with either major party, then none of this concerns you. But just in case any Republicans or Democrats who are engaged in their party’s respective political processes are reading this, I have a few suggestions on who you might consider voting for. No one has ever asked me for my opinion on the candidates, and I have no idea what I am talking about, but that has never stopped Pat Buchanan from shooting his mouth off, and it shan’t stop me, either. If I had my way, the next president wouldn’t be a Democrat or a Republican — he or she would be a democrat and a republican, and honest, and independent, and able to write and deliver a decent speech a few times a year. Really, I wouldn’t expect much. Reasonably good pronunciation and diction would be a marked improvement on the last seven years.
Since that is unlikely (read: “never, ever going”) to happen, the least you elephants and donkeys could do for me, as a personal favor, would be to choose the most entertaining candidates for the general election. On the Democratic side, it’s a toss-up — always entertaining mental patient Lyndon LaRouche isn’t running this time, so for me it’s between lovable goof Dennis Kucinich, and creepy old YouTube star and former senator from Alaska, Mike Gravel. Of the two, I’d recommend Gravel, who isn’t a Vietnam vet but has still somehow mastered the thousand-yard stare. I like Kucinich, but the poor guy was built for being stuffed into lockers and having toilets flushed on his head, not for leading the government of the most powerful nation on the planet. How would anything ever get accomplished at G8 summits with all the other global heads of state constantly giving our guy wet willies and Dutch rubs?
For the Republicans, it’s an easy choice. Alan Keyes. No, I’m serious. He’s alive, and he’s running for the nomination. Most of us naturally assumed, when we didn’t hear anything more from him following the 2004 election, that he had returned home to Maryland following his humiliating defeat by Barack Obama in their Illinois U.S. Senate race and quietly committed suicide. A guy can only be completely and utterly rejected by the electorate so many times before he starts to take it personally. But Keyes has returned yet again to the campaign trail, the Jake LaMotta of American politics, except that LaMotta could actually win, and is campaigning right this second in Iowa, hoping for a strong showing to bolster his unnoticed and irrelevant White House bid.
Keyes got into the race late, not announcing his candidacy until September, by which time most of his fellow third-tier candidates had already dropped out. He has spent most of the last three months using what precious little television exposure he has received to complain about what precious little television exposure he has received. This fits with the pattern of Keyes’s previous campaigns, where he would announce he was running, appear genuinely stunned that his name was not suddenly at the top of pre-election polls, and spend the rest of the campaign using every opportunity to complain about the press and the party establishment who were undermining him. This time around he was only invited to participate in one major televised debate, that one on December 12, the last debate before the Iowa caucus, televised on PBS and watched by about four people, during which Keyes’s most memorable contribution was to complain to the moderator about not being called on as much as the other candidates.
Many of you may have no idea who Alan Keyes is, or what he looks like. For you, I’ve included that photo up there, which I have deliberately cropped to make it appear that Keyes is about to lunge at Rudy Giuliani and decapitate the former New York mayor and current national front-runner for the Republican nomination with his bare hands.
Technorati Tags: 2008 Election, Alan Keyes, Iowa Caucus, Politics
So he’s whiny, he’s smug, he can’t come up with a single reason why you should vote for him other than the fact that he is Alan Keyes, dammit! — why do I wish he would get the nomination? Because I’m tired of hearing from the Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks of the world how conservative America is, how the Republicans lost big in the 2006 elections because they weren’t conservative enough, how true conservatism is the best political strategy because it always wins.
Alan Keyes has never held an elected office, at any level of government. He has lost every election he has ever entered. He has never served in a legislature, he has never been a chief executive, he does not have a single qualification relevant for the office of president. Yet, if voters truly wanted what Republican shills like Limbaugh and Beck are always saying they want, they would find no more perfect candidate than Alan Keyes. Whatever else he is or isn’t, Keyes is a conservative. Calling him the most conservative candidate in the Republican race would hardly be going far enough. Keyes’s ultra-conservative rhetoric obliterates that of any of his opponents.
Even Ron Paul, the fiscally conservative congressman championed by a small but rabidly loyal faction of libertarians, tax protestors, and 9/11 Truthers, can’t hang with Keyes. As a libertarian, Paul opposes federal bans on same-sex marriage and abortion, and generally espouses a live-and-let-live philosophy of government. Not so for Keyes, who (when he stops complaining long enough to actually address issues) stridently opposes gay rights, legalized abortion, and anything else contrary to his own narrow, religiously informed morality.
Keyes includes his desire to “restore reverence for God” on the first page of the 8-page brochure available from his campaign website. He was a vocal supporter of Roy Moore, the theocratic Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice who defied federal court orders and undermined the separation of church and state by installing a massive granite monument to the Judeo-Christian Ten Commandments atop the steps to his courthouse. Keyes's resistance to equality for gay Americans extends to his own family — one of the few times Keyes found himself in the headlines following the 2004 election was when his daughter Maya came out as a lesbian, and announced that as a result her father had cut off financial support and stopped talking to her.
He’s a conservative, all right. Keyes is the embodiment of pure, undiluted conservatism, informed by religious zealotry and ideology, unchecked by compassion or reason. He has no chance in hell of winning. More than that, his nomination would mean the end of the Republican party as a serious entity in national politics. Voters who complain about the scarcity of real conservatives in the presidential race are either ill-informed or dishonest; Alan Keyes is in the race, and he’s as real as real conservatives get. If that’s what people really want — if that’s what wins — how is it that so many people who have looked at Keyes during his multiple bids for the White House have not liked what they’ve seen?