2008 approaches. The nation faces perhaps the greatest dangers I have seen
since I was a small boy. Many suspect that powerful forces in the government are
intent on provoking a world war.
Do you really want to choose between Hilary and Newt for president? Or Gore
and McCain? Or any other candidates likely to be offered by the Evil Stupid
Party or the Stupid Evil Party? Whoever runs, the choice appears destined to be
between Endless War and War Without End.
For those of us who believe that the time is ripe for an ambidexterous
Third Force in American politics, an alternative- in Bill Kauffman’s words- to
the "two for the price of one parties", the discussion always ends with the
question of leadership: who in the world could lead us?
The great American populist- alright, technically he is Canadian- Neil
Young, in his recent album Living with War, has a song called "America
Needs a Leader". This is true enough: boy, do we ever. But when he names names
it is a bit pathetic. The best he can do is Barack Ubama and Colin Powell
(though he does suggest Powell run to atone for his sins).
And the whole thing sounds a bit desperate, like we are eager for a
I am not eager for a demogogue.
I am not eager for any sort of politician, even a Catholic one.
I don’t doubt the sincerity of his conversion, but like most American
Catholics, I don’t think he realizes the social implications of his faith.
And no Santorum. If his career survives prolife Democrat Bob Casey Jr.’s
challenge, I’ll let Specter take up his defense.
No nobody on the current scene.
Any candidate in the Last Hope movement- or perhaps the "Last Ditch"
movement- would have to at a minimum:
a) Not carry undue Leftist or Rightist political baggage, which pretty much
eliminates Nader and Buchanan, whatever their merits.
b) Offer an alternative to politics as usual.
c) Not be any sort of Mass Media pundit.
d) Not be politically ambitious, for the desire for power is itself the
prelude to corruption.
e) Appeal to every patch of the crazy quilt coalition some of us dare hope
for: decentratlist Leftists, Paleo and Traditionalist Conservatives, the better
sort of libertarians, Greens, Catholic Worker type anarchists, working class
people, farmers, po’ folks, and all the other assorted malcontents that may,
just may, in the best American tradition, pull together to save the country from
the neoconservative nightmare that has fallen upon us, to tear us away from the
grinning proclaimers of World War III, to call America home.
There is someone on the periphery of the national scene who offers an
appeal to the better sorts on the Right and the Left, someone who flies with
both wings, who has written for both The American Conservative and
The Sierra Club magazines, who is at once antiwar and antiabortion, who
is quintessentially American without being a rabid nationalist, whose analysis
of the national dilemna reaches far beyond politics to the cultural and
agricultural roots of the problem.
What’s more- and this to his credit- he has shown absolutely no political
He is a poet and a farmer, an honest man. He hails not from the Beltway or
one of the little beltways of the New America, but from a real place, a holdout
from the Old Jeffersonian America.
And he is a prophet.
Draft Wendell Berry for President!