Through Arlington school board candidate Hunter Crow's post on the GPTX Facebook page, I learned this morning that apparently Jesse Ventura wants to run for president as a Green. The key word is "apparently," because it isn't self-evident that Ventura had anything to do with the creation of the website.
Still, The Governing Body has recently spoken in speculative terms about a presidential run.
As of now, the Jesse Ventura 2020 site is a bit rudimentary:
- The title of the main and only page doesn't even get his name right: my browser tab says Jesse Venture 2020.
- It has space reserved for the Green Party Banner, but the webmaster has not added the banner image yet.
- There are representations of his top three issues: stopping US military madness, ending the war on drugs, and truly reforming campaign finance. If your pet issue or litmus test for voting is Medicare for All, you may have to wait for the site to be fully fleshed out.
- The page's main feature, found near the bottom, is a clunkily edited video collage of some of Ventura's media appearances that illustrate his evolution into a Green supporter.
This Facebook page looks even less legitimate.
Let's put aside the janky website, etc., and imagine for a moment that Ventura sincerely wants to run.
Since the Green salad days of Nader/LaDuke 2000, I've been hoping, sometimes out loud, for a Green presidential candidate with built-in name recognition to emerge. Roseanne Barr in 2012 was...not exactly the answer to my prayers. Neither is Ventura, but based on what I know of him, I find him acceptable.
If you perceive that that's not a ringing endorsement, you perceive correctly. I would be happier to support a candidate of color or a woman for the nomination. For example, I wish Eugene Puryear would be of presidential age by November 2020, but he'll be about four months short of 35. I would love to see Margaret Flowers run; however, despite her eloquence on issues such as Medicare for All, she carries the baggage of being yet another bougie, white, no-longer-practicing physician who might be mistaken for Jill Stein. (For the record, as much as I admire Dr. Stein, I believe the party needs a new face and a fresh start.)
What Ventura brings is a sufficiently forceful personality to lead a populist-progressive revolt against the political establishment and the Duopoly...which is fortunate, because that seems to be his plan.
Name recognition is neither necessary nor sufficient to make a good Green Party candidate for president. But it does help. When Green activists are out in the street spreading the Green Gospel, the most frequently asked question is, "Who's your candidate?" Responding "Ralph Nader" back in 2000 was easier than having to explain "David Cobb" in 2004, or even "Former Congressmember Cynthia McKinney" in 2008.
Speaking of Baggage...
Whatever good Ventura may have accomplished as Governor of Minnesota, he would still need to overcome his reputation as a loudmouth and a crank. The media machine has made him into something of a joke. (Admittedly, I quite enjoyed the satirical treatment of him on A Prairie Home Companion, as well as Doonesbury's subplot in which Ventura hires Ambassador Duke to assassinate Garrison Keillor.) He also began 2016 as a supporter of Gary Johnson, but then switched.
If the Green Party of the United States decides to take Ventura's candidacy seriously, Progressives can only hope that said media machine will cast him as a left-wing answer to Donald Trump: i.e., a celebrity who is loud and pushy. Considering how the wall-to-wall coverage of Trump in 2016, including the negative stories, perversely worked to his benefit, the same may happen for Ventura.
At least Ventura can speak in complete and coherent sentences and does not have the, shall we say, problematic history with women that Trump has. But the corporate media have ways to distort the relative seriousness of candidates' peccadilloes. Accusations of anti-vaccine sentiments disqualified Stein in the eyes of many voters, including self-identified Progressives, who overlooked Hillary Clinton's proven history of fucking up entire nations like Honduras and Libya.
First They Ignore You
Ventura is fond of pointing out how, when he was allowed to participate in the gubernatorial debates, his poll numbers went from 10% to winning in two months. If he were nominated by the Greens and then allowed in the presidential debates, I'm fairly sure that similar lightning would strike.
The problem here is that the corporate parties have learned from the experience of having H. Ross Perot in the debates in 1992, and Ventura on the stage in 1998. Third-party ideas are winners with the people at large, even if third-party candidates seldom eclipse that 10% polling mark. The Republican-Democrat complex will stop at nothing, including sabotage and possibly violence, to prevent him from debating their candidates on national television.
That said, one can still fantasize about a presidential debate that features two WWE Hall of Fame inductees, and about Ventura giving Donald Trump a major smackdown.
Even beyond the question of participation in debates, I'm curious whether the corporate media will decide to ignore Ventura, laugh at him, or fight him. Perhaps it will be some combination of the three. Will fighting him lead to Gandhi's fourth stage: "Then you win"? Keep in mind that "win" doesn't necessarily mean "become president." In Green circles, especially in Texas, 5% of the vote against Democratic and Republican opposition is considered a victory.