My fellow Americans . . .
Isn't that how all political speeches should begin? Maybe, but that's not my style, and I'm throwing the Politician's Rule Book out anyway on this thing. So here's the deal:
I'm running for President of the United States in the 2016 election. Why 2016? Because it's the first year I'll be constitutionally eligible (I'll be 34 in 2012). Plus, it has the added practical bonus of being two elections away, which means that odds are I won't be running against a sitting President.
Why am I running at all? Well, first, because I think that I can do the job (though that doesn't matter very much unless I can convince a whole lot of other people of that as well). But second, and more importantly, because a campaign like this is important. The foundation of the American system is a belief in government of, by and for the people. But the way that American politics has developed, that ideal has been lost.
It's been lost as statesmen became politicians, relying on polls instead of their minds in determining policies and positions.
It's been lost as elected representatives stopped trying to govern and focused on trying to be reelected.
It's been lost as political parties metastasized from groups of like minded individuals supporting a common vision to self-sustaining entities that have long since placed the good of the country behind the good of the party, or simply convinced themselves that what is good for the party is what is good for the country.
It's been lost as the cost of campaigning has soared into the stratosphere, ensuring that only candidates with strong party backing or an independent source of funds (Ross Perot, anyone?) can have their voices heard.
And it's been lost as candidates ceased talking to voters and started talking at them, stopped speaking in their own words and started parroting the speeches their campaign managers had written for them, stopped campaigning on ideas and policies and began campaigning on slogans and sound bites.
That's why I'm doing this. Because, win or lose, I'm not going to campaign that way. Over the next ten years or so, I'll be posting my positions on various issues of the day - as fully fleshed out as I can make them - and my reasons for taking them. I make no promises to stubborn consistency, to holding to a position merely because I've taken it. In fact, I promise to change my positions should the facts change or should someone point out flaws in my reasoning. And one of the things I'm hoping for is that reader comments will help me strengthen and alter and tweak my positions where I do make mistakes, and where I may have missed an important fact or argument.
And whatever else, the words will be mine. Honest, blunt, and written without care for how they play politically.
Will that be enough to give me even a snowball's chance in 2016? Probably not, not unless there are a whole lot more of you out there reading this than I can imagine ever will. But either way, I think it'll be a hell of a ride.