John Dennis: A Republican You Can Take Home to Mother (Even if Mother is a Man)


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.

NEXT: The Amazing Elastic Commerce Clause

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  1. Am I too optimistic, or is the Overton Window creeping in our direction?

    1. I have been increasingly fearful of the Overton Window as of late.


    1. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  3. He sounds pretty damn too-good-to-be-true.

    And he’s going to lose, badly, from his violation of progressive orthodoxy by wanting to do anything but grow gummint power exponentially. But hey, at least he’ll lose standing on his principles, which his opponent sorely lacks, probably as much as her soul.

    Oh well, Pelosi’s masters at the Black Chamber would never allow her to lose, even fairly.

    1. He’s going to lose badly because has he’ll have an ‘R’ next to his name on the ballot, and most people are clueless fucking morons.

      1. And he’s going to lose, badly

        He’s running as an R in San Francisco against the current Speaker of the House. There isn’t anything he could say that would get him even 40% of the vote. It would be a bit of a victory if he broke 30% of the vote.

        1. In 2008 the Republican candidate against Speaker Pelosi received 9%, coming in third behind Cindy Sheehan, who received 17%.

          This year Cindy Sheehan has endorsed John Dennis for Congress, and he had pre-primary polls that showed him getting 22% – real growth for a Republican in that district.

    2. This is my town, you know. And I’m an old school hard core CommieSymp ParlorPink from Minnesota, was shocked at how conservative the politics are here when I moved 30 years ago. I’d say the local “liberals” are like battered wives, yapping, “OH, the Party loves me, the Party didn’t mean to hurt me, the Party said it was my fault, I love the Party and the Party loves me!” And will keep repeating that to potential rescuers until her bloody body is found on the floor.

  4. Wonderful. But believe it or not, there’s actually a real libertarian running in that race. Philip Z. Berg


    1. So San Franciscans have a plethora of great choices, and will instead elect fucking Pelosi?

      1. Can you believe that? I’d vote for Jello Biafra, before Pelosi.


        1. Did you vote for Sister Boom Boom for Supe? I did! “Am I Supe yet?” was the motto.

      2. You seem to be correct, and all I can do is facepalm. Thanks, San Francisco.

    2. Damn, does that mean no possibility of havinga Speaker of the House Starchild this time around?

  5. Those chairs suck. I hope he wins.

  6. ‘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’

    Not in San Francisco it ain’t.

    1. Actually, his support for Proposition L may gain him a lot of support from San Francisco residents. Whatever they might tell you publicly, your average San Franciscan is pretty disgusted with stepping over pissed-covered passed-out homeless people.

      1. FeinSwine was the one who shut down all the public restrooms and made sure that all the cheap rents and jobs we had got “economically cleansed” in her campaign to turn SF into Manhattan. Funny thing about people, if there are no toilets they tend to use whatever’s handy.

        I just love all these smartypants talking smack about this town, when they don’t live here and have no grasp of the history and politics. Shows you “librals” can be as daft as the whackiest teabagger.

  7. Do the Dems ever cough up any fiscally conservative candidates in the same way the GOP occasionally coughs up socially tolerant ones?

    1. No. When Republicans run claiming to be social liberals or moderates that is almost always what they are. I can’t think of a single instance where someone like Ron Paul or Gary Daniels ran claiming to be “moderate” on these issues only to go hard right once in office. Even RINOs like Mike Castle and Arlan Specter are pretty up front about their support of some liberal causes.

      Democrats in contrast routinely run in the South and West as “fiscal moderates” only to go hard left once in office.

      1. You got that, John. Pelosi, FineSwine and Boxer will say anything for a vote and then do what the big money people want.

    2. Joe Manchin and Phil Bredesen, as governors of WV and TN, have/were quite fiscally conservative, at least from a spending perspective. Bredesen even basically pulled the plug on TennCare. OTOH, they’re not entirely socially liberal.

      However, Manchin also endorsed Obamacare when it was being debated in the Senate… the pull of party loyalty when in the legislature is too much.

    3. Also, fiscally conservative Democrats are also very likely to be socially conservative.

      There’s no a priori reason why the two things have to go together, except that there just aren’t enough libertarians to win elections.

      1. Do tell. What’s this a priori reason?

        1. Sorry, misread your comment.

    4. Walt Minnick? Jim Traficant?

      1. Ahhhh. Traficant is out of prison and running for Congress, again. Beam me up.

    5. I’ve seen such candidates at the local city council level. Not above that, though.

  8. 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.

    “Your revolution is over, Mr. Lebowski. Condolences! The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did; get a job, sir. The bums will always lose. Do you hear me, Lebowski? The bums will always lose!”

    1. Nice.

      The funny thing is, that would still allow overnight street sleeping. What’s the problem? I suppose the panhandling at those hours isn’t too lucrative.

      1. Even if passed, it won’t make much a dent. SanFran and the other bum-coddlers will just direct their police forces not to enforce it. Left-California has been incentivizing a positive flow of bummigration for decades now. A simple measure to control a few of the more annoying effects won’t really do a thing.

        1. bummigration

          So much win.

          1. Hehe, yeah, that’s pretty great. You’re on a roll this morning, SF.

          2. I remember, years ago, a friend of mine bummigrated to Hawaii.

            1. A lot of people seem to do that. It’s really an ideal place to be a bum. No real need for housing with the ridiculously even climate. And supposedly they will offer to send you back to the mainland for free if you apply for welfare or anything like that.

        2. Seattle has a similar law and all it seems to accomplish is to make the bums more aggressive and more likely to stand on the corner harassing you.

          1. Tasers. Dagny. Aggressively asking a stranger for money ought to be grounds for tasering.

            1. So long as you apply that to United Way (most employers force donations to that), and every other person asking for money, at least you wouldn’t be such a nasty little f*** whose mother should have swallowed, as Munch puts it. Zebby, when it’s your turn to be down and out, choke on the hubris that got you there, and remember how karma made you take a dose of your own medicine. The righteousness of a nation is determined by how they treat the least fortunate. We in SF have had YOUR unwanted children, YOUR mentally ill dumped on us. And from the statements you’re making, seems like no one wants you around, nor are you likely to be of much us in the labor market.

        3. Dearie, we are broke in SF due to the spending sprees of the local democrats and progressives. If you want to pay SF the court costs and jail costs so people you’ll never meet can be harrassed, feel free to donate to the SFPD and the Sheriff’s department. And if you flyover jerks would stop sending the people you don’t want here, we wouldn’t have to clean up _your_ messes.

    2. This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!

  9. I’m glad to see the Libertarians fielding such great candidates. Things are picking up in NJ. Many people sent emails to the state party, and we expect to establish county organizations in several formally inactive counties at our state wide general meeting in November.

    1. Are you talking about the NJLP? We need some in Cumberland County.

  10. “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.”…

    But in the current world we live in, these spaces are public, so you should be able to lie in them as you please as long as you aren’t obstructing traffic.

    1. “Public” doesn’t mean “no man’s land”, it means it is owned by the community. Community (read: local government) rules should apply.

  11. Guys like this running for office could cause Jacob Weisberg’s head to explode. NTTAWWT……..

  12. But in the current world we live in, these spaces are public, so you should be able to lie in them as you please as long as you aren’t obstructing traffic.

    I’m not so sure. Of course, nearly anyone lying in a road or sidewalk could be said to obstruct traffic, but aside from that:

    These are public spaces with a particular purpose. We don’t allow people to drive through the park (also a public space), because its purpose is not to act as a roadway. So, we don’t allow any public space to be used for any purpose. Why should we allow roads to be used for anything but travel?

    1. A sidewalk can be used for many purposes without the need to “keep moving.” Hanging out with your friends, selling hot dogs, passing out fliers are some of the acceptable uses for the public sidewalk. It’s not a single purpose space.

      1. lying/sleeping =|= “hanging out”

        1. The list was not exhaustive. Lying around or sleeping is also acceptable as long as you’re not impeding others’ passage.

          1. Acceptable to whom?

        2. Yeah, sleeping on cold, wet, filthy pavement is so great . .hope you like it when it’s your turn. And the way our nation is going, unless you marry one of Pelosi’s offspring you will probably end up there sooner than you think.

      2. selling hot dogs,

        You realize that is not an acceptable use of public sidewalks in most cities, without a permit, yes?

        1. Well, yeah, but I’d assume that he, as with me and probably you, doesn’t agree with that.

    2. But where would we hold the union blockades?

  13. This Dennis dude is on the right track. I think that the combination of socially liberal and fiscally conservative has the potential to be wildly popular. In fact, I think it’s probably the soon-to-be-discovered sweet spot in U.S. politics.

    Unfortunately, on economic issues, Dennis is probably a little too out there in libertarian theory world for the average voter, and especially for SF. People will respond to calls to balance the budget, trim federal spending, and restore free enterprise. When you start talking about privatizing sidewalks and stuff, the demand curve drops off pretty sharply.

    To summarize, it seems to me that there’s plenty of room for libertarianish candidates to get elected, but not for hardcore ones.

    1. To summarize, it seems to me that there’s plenty of room for libertarianish candidates to get elected, but not for hardcore ones.

      Where is the evidence suggesting this? Libertarianish candidates lose elections, generally badly. Look at Tom Campbell against DiFi in 2000.

      OTOH, anti-libertarian candidates frequently win election.

      IMO, too many libertarians commit the Pauline Kael Fallacy.

      1. Well, fiscal conservative/social liberal candidates do tend to do okay in presidential elections – John Anderson won ~7% in 1980 and was at 22% in the polls at one point. That was also the libertarians’ best year ever. In 1992, Ross Perot won 19%, and led in the polls at one point. Of course, as you can see from those examples, fiscal conservative/social liberal does NOT equal libertarian.

  14. I think that the combination of socially liberal and fiscally conservative has the potential to be wildly popular.

    Every time I see that formula, I remind myself that every single person who uses it has “socially liberal” trump “fiscally conservative” every time. And “socially liberal” seems to have a very broad meaning, including transfer programs, tax incentives, blah, blah, blah.

    Essentially, people who claim to be both are generally only one, and that one is “socially liberal.” I hope to be pleasantly surprised someday, of course.

    1. Ditto.

      There are about a dozen issues that I can agree on with the average person who self-identifies as “socially liberal” (without admitting that the adverb should just as well be dropped). All of the issue are in the arena of personal behavior and privacy.

      Then, there a much larger number of issues we disagree on, as they reveal themselves to be statists/redistributionists when it comes to economic policy.

    2. That’s actually what I was thinking about with my question above. The Dems that hit the supposed sweet spot always fail on the economic side. Of course, most Republicans fail on the economic side too anyway.

    3. Rand Paul is the most socially liberal Republicans from a Red state that I can remember and lefties still hate him just as much as Dick Cheney.

    4. To a liberal, “fiscally conservative” means balancing the budget by raising taxes.

  15. I’ve read that he’s way out-fundraised her.

    I wonder if anyone has even done polling there.

    And I wouldn’t be surprised if he came within ten points of her. Miracles happen. Even in SF.

    1. I’ve been following Dennis for some time now and I can’t seem to find any polls online. Closest I get is a news article that puts him at less than 20%.

    2. Where did you read that, Colin? I sure would like to know about all that money! Alleged money, I should say.

  16. People are sleeping on the street because the rent 2 DAMN high!

  17. As much as I like Gary Johnson in general, it should be noted that he support gay unions, but not gay marriage. His reasoning? “Right or wrong, that’s what I’m advocating.”


    1. If that is the worst thing you can say about him, he is still many times better than any other potential major party presidential candidate I have ever heard of.

    2. His real reasoning is probably that if he adds gay marriage to drug legalization and rational immigration policy, he will have no appeal to Republican primary voters.

    3. No, he said that his position is civil unions for everyone (the correct libertarian position), which the interviewer misunderstood because journalists are trained to think that there are only two positions on any issue, liberal and conservative, and any other position is somewhere between the two.

  18. So why have I never heard of this guy before now?

    1. Because he has no chance of winning?

    2. Because the democratic machine, the Feinstein/Pelosi/Boxer inheritors of the Burton/Brown Machine, are mendacious swine who control a lot more than they should, and keep in mind that Yellow Journalism was invented here and still promoted by the local press. And there is so much overt voter fraud and corruption in the Election Commission, who are friends of . .. you know who. We make Chicago and Tammany Hall look like the Boy Scouts.

  19. Maybe this should be a separate post, but the Weakly‘s assumption that anybody should care about a U.S. Congressional candidate’s position on a municipal ballot initiative wins today’s Not Your Job Prize.

  20. 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.

    Perhaps, instead of Nolan’s two-axis chart, we could explain libertarianism to the video game generation as being so left we wrap around to being right on some things.

    Or am I showing how dated I am by referring to video games that wrap around?

  21. Or maybe that square is circled. Or perhaps reconfigured as a triangle?

    It’s a pentagram bitches.

  22. I like John. I live in San Fran and he came to the Castro area a few times to campaign. He’s talking sense on ending the wars and equal rights. So sick of Pelosi and will be cool with giving John my vote.

  23. It’s too bad the author didn’t bother to check the facts about the furniture. I have no idea why the picture of that odd chair was used, since Mr Dennis’s company didn’t invent it. I’m currently sitting on one of the chairs designed by his company and it’s very comfortable. I would imagine the inventor and the manufacturer of the kneeling chair featured might be somewhat upset at your cut&paste; of their product and attributing it to someone else.

    I’ve seen some rotten “journalism” online, but this is one of the tackiest and cheapest of shots seen in some time. I saw better journalism and superior writing in our junior high school “underground” student paper in late 1960s. What’s your point, Gillespie? What a pity an organization calling itself “reason” would run a ridiculous piece of crap like this. How did that hack get a paying gig? Nepotism or cronyism? He sure doesn’t have any talent.

    As for his position on Prop L and Prop 19, the first is a local proposition and the latter a state proposition, not Federal, and I thought it was odd that he was even asked about those matters.

    I live in SF. I am tired of the local Democrats such as Feinstein running this City into the ground, enriching the developers while ignoring the will of those of us who have to live with the mess they have created.

    Note that Pelosi and especially Feinstein have parlayed their political gigs into personal fortunes, while there are fewer jobs, more misery and poverty, in their districts. Of course, they never get out of their limosines so maybe they don’t notice how bad things have gotten, but I think they don’t care so long as they get rich.

    Kinda like thinking that because you’re in first class you don’t have to worry about the plane crashing.

    1. Elizabeth-dude, chill, it’s just a blog post. There’s a whole paper reason magazine where they actually edit their stories and do fact checking and whatnot.

      1. Sweetheart, that’s no excuse for such terrible journalism. And they put their name on it. The author should stick to myspace and personal blogs. He’s representing for Reason, the rag, not the noun. It’s clear the author did no research and is just jerking off.

        1. Yes indeed, that ain’t his chair. I’m with you 100% ‘Lizbeth the article is crap. The story is how the mainstream media is ignoring this guys very existence. It’s really kind of awe inspiring just how much he’s invisible.

        2. I have no idea why the picture of that odd chair was used, since Mr Dennis’s company didn’t invent it.

          Sheesh. I’ll explain. Completely aside from reporting on Mr. Dennis, Gillespie was riffing on how he dislikes ergonomic furniture. Admittedly, it wasn’t that funny of a riff, but no claim was made that the picture showed one of Mr. Dennis’ products. Not sure why you’re so fixated on the damn chair instead of the substance of his post.

          1. Clearly implied by context, dearie. You did not attribute the pic, so it’s clearly implied. And his entire post was dreck. So you’re Gillespie’s ‘splainer? Nice to have his boyfriend come to his rescue, since he can’t defend himself. Too bad he put such a stupid blog with a pic that was not appropriate. And since I am right now sitting in one of the chairs Dennis’s company actually produced, it’s almost libelous, since Gboy has no idea of the product produced and is trying to discredit that company and in fact all ergonomic furniture. IOW, he’s a douchebag. And I’m being very kind in my assessment.

            1. I get it. You have a thing about ergonomic furniture.

  24. If he was a real civil libertarian he would oppose the government licensing of marriages period.

    1. “No True Scotsman” eh?

  25. Plus Dennis is damned good looking! I want to think on that score alone the gays of SF will vote for him.

    1. That doesn’t explain them voting for Pelosi last time…

      1. They confused her for Liza Minnelli.

  26. Why are his changes slim to none against this woman????

  27. I want to directly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates, but I cant find it, do you have one?

  28. Aw, this was a really quality post. Air Max In theory I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done.

  29. Nice one, there is actually some great points on this post some of my associates will find this worthwhile, will send them a link, thanks

  30. I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I just wanted to throw you a big thanks – you and I’ll bookmark it and come back later.Interesting article. You have gained a new fan.I look forward to more of your cool blog posts. Cheers

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