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Insights: Politics—Doing Right by the People

Tired of politics as usual? So is the governor of Minnesota
Jesse Ventura
From the Print Edition:
Bo Derek, Jul/Aug 00

In forty-nine years I have seen and done a lot.  

Life from the jungles of Southeast Asia, from the center of a professional wrestling ring and from behind a talk radio microphone seemed pretty exciting. But then I was elected governor of Minnesota, wrote a book and did a Playboy interview. Will life ever be the same? I don't think so.  

Why? Because it's just my nature to live on the edge, and as long as I'm on the edge, life will continue to be exciting. I'm not going to change. I'm going to be a good father, a good husband, a good friend to my Southside buddies, a good citizen, a good governor, and have a good time doing it.  

I like to stir things up, keep my sense of humor active and enjoy a good confrontation and a good Cuban cigar.  

Did you know that in the year after I was elected governor nearly 23 million people visited Minnesota? At first, many thought the crowds were coming to get a glimpse of me. Not true. I figured it out. They were actually curious to see just who these Minnesota people were who could elect Jesse "The Body" Ventura as their governor.  

Seriously though, it's not rocket science. Minnesotans elected me because they were sick and tired of having to choose from the same old radical left and the same old radical right. As a result of some very progressive election and campaign finance laws in Minnesota, the environment was ripe for someone like me to expose the tired old thinking of the Republican and Democratic parties.  

With same-day voter registration available in Minnesota, I was able to engage young and disaffected voters and urge them to go to the polls. With public financing available to major-party candidates, I was able to have just enough money ($600,000) to compete with the traditional-party candidates ($4.3 million combined).  

And I won.  

And you know what? If the two major parties would ever have the courage to trust the American people, the same scenario could take place on the national level.  

But as long as Congress and individual states keep a stranglehold on ballot access and allow the buying and selling of candidates, third-party movements will only be able to produce fringe candidates unable to compete in a system designed to keep the two major parties in control.  

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