Meet Republican John Dennis, who is running against Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and made a fortune in ergonomic (Greek and Latin for "really uncomfortable") furniture.
Here's a summary of Dennis' positions:
"Dennis not only would end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also would abolish most overseas bases….
Dennis faults Pelosi for not moving to repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act…
As an economic libertarian, he would abolish the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce and Education. He dismisses the stimulus programs….
As a civil libertarian, he supports same-sex marriage, the decriminalization of marijuana, and opposes the Patriot Act.
That's from a recent San Francisco Chronicle profile by Carolyn Lochhead, who writes that Dennis is effectively running to Pelosi's left as a libertarian. Read it here.
Needless to say, Dennis' chances are somewhere between slim and none but in this crazy, mixed-up world, maybe Nancy Pelosi's massive advantages don't amount to a hill of beans.
And Dennis is bewildering some of the right people, such as the folks at the SF Weekly, who have to acknowledge that this Ron Paul-backed candidate is not your father's Oldsmobile or your mother's Saturn but something truly different:
Sure, Dennis supports Proposition 19, the marijuana initiative. But he also backs San Francisco left-wing anathema Proposition L, which would prohibit sitting or lying on public ways between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.
"In a strictly Libertarian world, the roads and sidewalks would be private property," Dennis explained. "If you're obstructing private property, you should be able to get people out of the way."…
He supports Proposition 23, the oil-company sponsored measure that would scrap California's efforts to fight global warming, because anti-pollution measures might hurt private businesses.
"Say a business had to spend $100,000 complying with emissions rules? That might be two people the company can't hire," he says….
Dennis' positions, like those of other Libertarians, don't fit very well on the traditional American political spectrum.
SF Weekly points out that support for Prop. L and criticism of green regs means that Dennis isn't "left" of Pelosi, which is a fair criticism. And a meaningless one, when it comes down to it. Which is more of a human rights issue in the Bay Area or anywhere else: pot legalization or the possible horror of privatized sidewalks? Madam Speaker's reps "abstained" from endorsing or saying nay to Prop. 19 recently. Which can only be read as a nay vote, especially when coupled with Pelosi's general and generous support of the Obama administration, which has vowed to arrest people for pot should Prop. 19 get passed. But hey, I'm sure Pelosi has expressed the proper positions for various factions during the Spanish Civil War and other pressing issues to lefties in SF.
I've never been a fan of kneeling chairs, but back pain be damned, this Dennis guy sounds pretty good! A Republican who is anti-prohibition, friendly to gays and other minorities, anti-stimulus spending, anti-war. He provides a ready answer to my barbaric yawp from a few days ago:
Why oh why does it seem that everyone who wants to save a nickel in federal spending has to also have a fixation on gay- and single-woman sex when she is not calling for drug testing for losing your job in the worst recession in years? Is there a necessary connection between wanting to cut Washington spending and hating on the gays (even or especially when your argument is that the federal government shouldn't be concerned with the places said gays may be working)?
It turns out that between folks like former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and characters such as Dennis, that circle is squared. Or maybe that square is circled. Or perhaps reconfigured as a triangle? I have won exactly nothing in my life betting on the ponies or the craps or the roulette wheel or my own inability to count to 21 at Atlantic City blackjack tables but I'm betting that the more one party starts sounding like Johnson and Dennis, the more of a long-term future it has in an America that is increasingly socially tolerant and fiscally conservative.