It’s Mind over Body – Ventura proves us wrong

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 7, 1999

Curtis Williams

Jesse Ventura shocked quite a few Minnesotans this week, proving he knew something that many of us did not: He could win an election for governor.

Wednesday, April 7, 1999

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Jesse Ventura shocked quite a few Minnesotans this week, proving he knew something that many of us did not: He could win an election for governor.

Just one day earlier, columnist Robert Novak, who has covered politics for the past 40 years, dismissed Ventura’s chances as a viable third-party candidate. Novak suggested that Ventura’s strongest demographic draw was males between the ages of 18 and 24 who likely thought Ventura’s views on prostitution represented the kind of progressive thought they could endorse. And while Novak was wrong about Ventura’s likelihood of success, he did strike on one aspect of Ventura’s remarkable victory-bringing new voters to the polls.

A few lessons can be learned from the campaign of our new governor-elect. First, never count out a candidate. You never know. Of course, to quote a column I published in August, &uot;I do not give Ventura even long shot odds of winning, and this column in no way expresses an endorsement of his candidacy.&uot; So I was wrong about the first part.

Secondly, politicians, such as Norm Coleman and &uot;Skip&uot; Humphrey, have dramatically underestimated the power of getting the disenfranchised voter to the polls. Ventura apparently spoke to people who have either felt left out of the system or have been just fed up with the whole thing. He’s nothing if not a fresh approach to politics.

Ventura speaks his mind, with what appears to be little regard for the consequences of his comments. Some of his ideas are solid, others, well, take a little getting used to. But it may just do the system some good to have someone who’s a little out in left field – someone whose views will be difficult to guess in advance of their expression. It’ll keep legislators and lobbyists on their toes.

Third, Ventura’s victory disproves his view of the need for campaign finance reform. Coleman and Humphrey spent far more than Ventura, yet came in second and third place respectively. Ventura proved that money alone does not ensure a winning campaign, so all this talk about limiting the amount of money one person or group can give, or the amount of money one candidate can spend is just a whole lot of malarkey, as well as being an egregious violation of the principles of free speech.

Another interesting aspect of Tuesday’s election results is the splitting of the Legislature between the (other) two political parties. With the Republican gaining control of the House, I expect the next two years will not bring much in the way of legislation. We’ll have a Reform Party governor, a Republican House and a DFL controlled senate. It just does not stand to reason that this group will agree often enough to impose more unneeded laws on a state already overrun with legislation.

I believe voters have come to like this kind of situation. The national election reflected the same type of balance of power,with the Republicans failing to see any gain in their hold on congress. Voters appear to like the idea of gridlock – even while they complain about it.

Continued gridlock means less chance that the government can meddle in our lives, and while everyone wishes for a responsible, responsive government, those folds in Washington have yet to prove they can deliver. Better that they spend their time bickering among themselves.

And back here at home, Mr. Ventura heads off to St. Paul to do whatever it is he’s going to while lots of people in other states laugh about our unconventional choice for governor. Let ’em laugh. Watching our capitol won’t be boring, and we’ve had enough of &uot;politics as usual&uot; to last us for at least the next four years.