If we learned nothing else from the 2010 South Carolina Senate primary race, it’s that democracy in action is an awesome thing to observe.
As some regular readers are already aware, I’ve been involved in running a congressional campaign out in New York state. And I have to tell you, it’s a lot of work. There are petitions to file, phone banks to organize, door-to-door walks to coordinate, and endless hours of activities related to fundraising. There are many days where members of the staff are fortunate if they get five hours of sleep. And still we face a steep hill to climb in our race.
Who knew that we were doing it entirely wrong?
Alvin Greene has been showing us the way forward, carving out a new path for American politics in the 21st century. With little to no attention paid by either the local or national media, Greene launched a campaign for the Democratic nomination in his race which nobody saw coming. He didn’t knock on any doors. He called almost no one. The only “rallies” he held — as reported in one of the shorter interviews in Senate race history — were “local events” with friends. He printed no campaign signs and didn’t even put up a website.
Alvin also found a way to put a new spin on a tried and true political theme. He’s a veteran! But unlike many candidates who either rely on their DD-214 and a nominal record or service, or embellish their military bona fides with tales of awards not earned, Greene had himself kicked out of the military on grounds which he described as “things just not working.”
Speaking as a veteran myself, I have to say that I’ve never heard of that clause in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It was simple … elegant… brilliant.
And in a bold move which none of his potential opponents saw coming, Mr. Greene managed to get himself arrested early in the campaign on a charge of “disseminating, procuring, or promoting obscenity” to a young lady — a violation which carries a potential sentence of five years in prison and a hefty fine. So bold was this maneuver that the ever vigilant press — both local and national — was apparently shocked into silence. Much like the poets in Bruce Springsteen’s immortal anthem “Jungleland,” they chose to simply “stand back and let it all be.”
For those of us mired in colonial era mentalities, these actions surely carry the stench of disaster. But for the forward thinkers on Team Greene the result was doubtless predictable. Alvin surged to victory with roughly 60% of the vote.
True, some naysayers in the hapless mainstream media attempted to attribute the win to an uninformed electorate who simply pulled the lever of the candidate with a name that came first in alphabetical order. But we on the inside know better. Greene’s team is being handled by a savant who is playing three dimensional chess while the rest of us flounder in a moribund game of Old Maid.
And what of his opponent in the general election, Senator Jim DeMint? His prospects are almost laughable by comparison. Thus far he has bitterly clung to the abandoned paradigms of last century thinking: raising funds, providing constituent services, meeting with voters and talking to prospective supporters. His shortsighted approach has left him bereft of even the slimmest chance at any “street credentials” and a rap sheet with not so much as a jaywalking conviction.
Seriously, Senator, how are we to muster any support for you? The least you could have done was appear on film picking up some hookers or stuffing a few wads of cash in a freezer. You should be taking a page from New York icon Charles Rangel, who is currently mired in accusations over a set of financial schemes which have New Jersey mob bosses scratching their generous chins and saying, “Why didn’t we think of that?”
Rangel, by all current polling, is set to cruise to yet another easy victory.
The days of staid, playbook politics are over. And politicians like Jim DeMint will clearly have to make way for the new wave of Alvin Greenes of the future.
When the book on the South Carolina elections are written large in history, Alvin Greene will surely have shown us the way. This type of outside the box thinking is precisely how we moved from cave dwelling crouchers, subsisting on nuts berries and the odd squirrel, to a civilization accustomed to dining on shrimp and lobster.
Thank you, Alvin Greene. A grateful nation salutes you.