Reefer Madness and Semi-Fictional Political Action

23 09 2006

I watched Bill Maher’s show today (from last night) and it was a very strong show – catch the re-airs over the weekend if you can. Therein I learned of Willie Nelson getting busted this week in Louisiana. His tour bus was stopped by the State Police, and in what seems like a cordial interaction, underwent (what seems to be) a probable-cause search based on the smell of marijuana from inside the bus. The police found a pound and a half of marijuana and about a quarter pound of psilocybin (“magic”) mushrooms. The Nelson group were not arrested but were cited for their violation of the law and released. I remain fascinated that there are millions of Americans who feel this is a sensible use of police power. I just wish more people would do something about it. Say, by supporting DPA or MPP, depending on your political tastes. And if you still don’t know why you should, read this and then support one of them.

Willie’s friend and Texas gubenatorial candidate Kinky Friedman has pledged to free all Texas inmates who are imprisoned as a result of marijuana possession. And (surely based far more on his anti-establishment views overall than his position on this issue), Friedman is polling as high as second place. Word is that Jesse Ventura is going to be down there campaigning for Friedman in the coming weeks. Friedman, once seen as a loony and entertaining fringe candidate, might actually be elected as Governor of our second most populous state. Second, of course, to California – now run by The Governator.

What interests me lately about Friedman and Schwarzenegger is that – while the grain of independent political thought in America has many different faces (many of the biggest profile ones painfully stoogy and comical) – it is alive and it is strong. Many of these people, granted, are uninformed rejectionists; but a considerably larger number of them, fragmented across the social and ideological spectrum, want radical – not incremental – change in their system of governance. If these people find better ways to unite, I believe that a renaissance in American leadership is not only possible, but likely. And you’d better figure out a way to participate or you might not like what it looks like.

Also, has mass media – and the independence encouraged by the internet and its time-shifted, personalized streams of information – enabled a new style of contemporary political action? Can we now credibly combine entertainment-style branding and writing with a collection of political ideas and present a heavily branded, net-optimized, semi-fictional candidate who wins real elections? Or, is this just a difference of degree from a past generation of media-savvy politicians?

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