By Craig J. Cantoni
“Dad, my friends and me want to know why the guy you know who ran for governor only get three percent of the vote,” my 15-year-old son Chris inquired as I drove him to school the day after Election Day.
“Come on, you know that ‘my friends and me’ is not proper grammar,” I said disapprovingly. “Catholic teachers never should have stopped whacking kids with a ...”
Rolling his eyes, Chris interrupted, “Oh, oh, here comes the speech about ‘When I was a kid and walked four miles to school through the snow.’”
Trying to hide my smile, I said, “To answer your question, there are two reasons why he didn’t get many votes. One reason is that it is difficult for candidates who aren’t Democrats and Republicans to win elections. But the primary reason is that he is a Libertarian, which means that unlike Democrats and Republicans, he doesn’t promise free stuff to people. He only promises that he will protect their liberty and let them do what they want, as long as they don’t harm anyone else. The nation’s founders were like that.”
“I’d vote for someone like that!” Chris said enthusiastically, probably because he was attracted to the let them do what they want part. “Isn’t that what you believe?” he asked rhetorically.
“Yes, you know that,” I answered, “except when it comes to high school kids.”
“Then you should run for office,” he said, which was the nicest thing Chris had said to dorky dad since the age of 13. Or on second thought, maybe he was insulting me.
Chuckling, I thanked him for his support and said, “Yeah, maybe I’d get two votes, one from grandma and one from your mom, but I’m not so sure about mom.”
“Why’s that?” he asked with a twinge of disappointment in his voice.
“WHOA!” I yelled while hitting the brakes. “That moron was supposed to yield to us, because he had a stop sign and we didn’t. When you start driving, always assume that the other driver is going to do something stupid.”
“There are two reasons why I wouldn’t get many votes. First, I don’t have the temperament for public office. But more importantly, I’d chastise anyone who wanted me to give them other people’s money, and I’d tell everyone that they should help the poor by giving to charity instead of leaving charity in the hands of the government, just as we support your friend Juan at the orphanage.”
“What’s wrong with saying that?” Chris asked with teenage naiveté.
“Well, because it would insult people, and insulting people is not the way to get their votes.”
“I think you’re wrong,” Chris said with typical teenager defiance. “You’d be the only candidate saying that, and the reverse psychology would have the opposite effect of what you think.”
Wow! I thought to myself. Reverse psychology. Opposite effect. The ten grand in tuition is paying off.
Beaming with fatherly pride I said, “You make a great point, Chris. Unfortunately, there is the problem of money. I’d have to spend a lot of our money on the campaign, because I’d refuse to take public money, as I think that no one should be forced to pay for someone else’s political speech.”
Giving me an incredulous look, he said, “Do you mean that candidates can get public money?”
“Yes, in Arizona,” I answered. “In fact, I was a co-plaintiff in a lawsuit against the practice, because it violates the First Amendment. But the judge threw out the case.”
“That sucks,” he responded as he went back to listening to his I-Pod.
Smart kid, I thought to myself.
An author and consultant, Mr. Cantoni can be reached at ccan2[remove]@aol.com.