Since the '04 Howard Dean campaign, the Internet has been seen as fertile ground for presidential candidates. But the advent of a possible candidacy by former Senator Fred Thompson could take online politics to a new level. In this exclusive article for Pajamas Media, Thompson reveals a respect for the 'net and its importance to democracy that could only come from a true web surfer. If the six-time weekly winner of the PJM Presidential Straw Poll is actually elected President, are we looking at ... the First Blogger? To PJM and Friends By Fred Thompson So, I hear you all have been talking about me.
It seems that I ought to respond, at least briefly, to all those who have expressed confidence in me — both here and in other forums. I do not take that confidence lightly.
The PJ Media poll is certainly good news, especially when, for a lot of politicians, encouragement to run from three relatives and an unemployed campaign consultant is considered an unstoppable groundswell. When people are saying nice things about me, I try to remember the proverb that compares flattery to a net at your feet. To be sure, the Pajamas poll results are very flattering, so let me return the favor and throw a net at your feet.
Whether or not the Internet can elect any particular candidate in any particular race, it’s clear that all of you and our many friends across the blogosphere and the Web are part of a true information revolution. That’s why so much of my effort has been focused on talking to Americans through this medium. By empowering individuals and building communities, the Internet provides a way of going around the inside-the-beltway crowd to reach people in numbers unheard of not that long ago.
I believe this direct communication and discussion is going to have an enormous impact on our political process. Our nation is facing unprecedented threats, and the challenges of globalization. We have a 70-plus trillion dollar entitlement shortfall and a government that is not effective in important ways.
To solve our problems, we have to realize that our country is pretty evenly divided along party lines. With close numbers in the House and the Senate, there will be no real reform without real bipartisanship. Too often, what we are seeing isn’t an effort to find solutions, but rather insults and purely partisan politics. There are many good and responsible people in government who are willing to work together – but the level of bipartisanship needed for real progress can only be achieved when politicians perceive that the American people demand it.
I talked about this a bit a couple of weeks ago out in California. I talked about how I’d recently run across an old clipping of a Thomas Sowell editorial. In it, he pointed out that Wendell Willkie received the largest vote of any Republican for President when he lost to Franklin Roosevelt in 1940. After the election, though, he never let partisanship turn him into an enemy of the administration. Instead of trashing the president, he served as Roosevelt’s emissary to Winston Churchill.
In the same editorial, Sowell also told a story about Churchill. When British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain died, early in the Second World War, Churchill delivered his eulogy. Though Chamberlain had turned a deaf ear, for years, to all of Churchill’s warnings that could have prevented that war, Churchill praised him. “He acted with perfect sincerity,” Churchill said. “However the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honor when we have done our best.”
Compare that magnanimity to what is going on in Washington and much of the Internet today. Sowell asks us, “In this day and time, can’t we have a responsible adult discussion of issues while the nation’s fate hangs in the balance in its most dangerous hour?”
That’s the question. If the answer is going to be “yes,” it will be due in large part to sites like this one. So thank you for all you’ve done here and for all the encouragement you’ve given me. Hopefully, we’ll continue this conversation.