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Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Yeah, he'll protect the children!
John Ramsey, father of slain child pageant star JonBenet, is seriously considering a run for the Michigan House of Representatives.

Ramsey has established residency in Charlevoix, where he has long vacationed, and has indicated he wants to succeed term-limited state Rep. Ken Bradstreet, R-Gaylord, said Matt Resch, spokesman for House Speaker Rick Johnson.

Ramsey is being urged to run by local Republican officials in Charlevoix, according to a report in Monday's edition of the newsletter Inside Michigan Politics.
-- Detroit Free Press

A wealthy businessman with name recognition. Hey, it almost worked for the Republicans in the 2000 presidential race, so why not try again? Charlevoix is up in the Republican northwest part of Michigan.

This highlights one of the most serious flaws in our system. The cynical Repugs in Charlevoix realize that Ramsey's name recognition gets him in the game, and then the whole campaign will revolve around the JonBenet story. The Repugs will ask, "Should baseless allegations of criminality, for which there have been no convictions, disqualify someone from running for office?" And lots of people will say, like I do, "Of course not." Unfortunately, most of those people will see that as the only issue, and having decided not to vote against Ramsey because of JonBenet suspicions, they will decide to vote for him. The lack of qualifications other than name recognition and sympathy for having lost his daughter will be ignored; Ramsey will be tried in the court of public opinion for the murder of his daughter. If the jury finds him not guilty, he's in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Any reasonable process for selecting a president of the most powerful nation on Earth would have eliminated George W. Bush from consideration almost immediately. Our system, on the other hand, will, for the second time in four years, present Bush as an either-or proposition. Either you think he's the most god-awful sucky excuse for a leader you've ever seen (that is, you are right), or you don't. Unfortunately, most of those in the second category will vote for him. They would also vote for someone substantially better (John McCain comes to mind) if offered the choice. But they aren't offered the choice. You're either with Bush or against him. And a lot of people will be figuratively flipping a coin on it. A reasonable system wouldn't have Bush's ugly mug on either side of that coin. Nor would it have Ramsey's.

I taught high school for a year back when the "New Kids on the Block" were popular. For many ninth-grade girls that year, whether you liked New Kids or not was THE most important question. How she answered it defined who a girl was. I couldn't figure out why in this mega-multi-choice world that so many people focused on a fairly meaningless yes-no question. But no matter how ridiculous the question, if it gets framed in either-or, yes-no, true-false, with-us-or-against-us terms, you can be sure that there will be a significant number of people on both sides. We really should be working to keep questions from being framed that way.