In June 2009, I threw my bicycle helmet into the ring and registered as a gubernatorial candidate. I spent a year being abused and frozen out by the leaders of the Florida Democratic Party before I realized that the corruption, inefficiency and anti-democratic forces within our electoral system make it nearly impossible to work for reform within the parties. For the first six months, I traveled the state making speeches and doing research. During the second six months, I wrote a book, Democracy and the Common Wealth: Breaking the Stranglehold of the Special Interests, that exposes the dirty secrets of our political system and how we can fix it.
In June 2010, with the book in print, I set off with five volunteers in a van and trailer, and we drove to Key West from my hometown of DeLand. From there I rode my bicycle the length and breadth of Florida, getting to know our state on an intimate scale, and meeting thousands of people. Six weeks and 800 miles later, led by the stalwart volunteers, I rolled into Pensacola, still being virtually ignored by the parties, the pollsters, and the media.
At the half-way point, in Jacksonville, I encountered a small tornado in my path, which was followed by a deluge which flooded streets and turned them into rivers. The people most qualified to lead, who could bring us the policies that would bring the greatest good for the greatest number, are automatically marginalized . Instead, if you are a self-funded millionaire or you are willing to do phone banking 4-8 hours a day (both as a candidate and while in office) and are able to attract the attention of the influence peddlers, then you may be selected to represent the financial elite. Succeeding in this environment, while being sincere about serving the public interest, is like trying to lasso a tornado.
My struggle to reach the voters, raise funds, be put in a poll, or even enter the debates, has been thwarted at every turn by the two parties in cohorts with a corrupt electoral system, in collusion with corporate-controlled media, upon whom they shower money for campaign ads. Since one’s viability is based on how many millions you either already have, or how much money the special interests pay you to keep the money flowing their way, it’s a forgone conclusion that only the sycophants will be favored by the powers-that-be. While trying to “lasso a tornado,” I developed a conviction that rather than trying to do the impossible, I have actually been learning the art of tornado whispering. This involves finding the calm center of every political storm and putting myself there with the aim of leveraging my talents to help bring forth the greatest common good. There is a pathway to reform, and it begins with a narrative to which the ending has not yet been written. To be a part of that narrative, volunteer and donate.