Butler County Times Gazette
  • Kent Bush: Importance of knowing what is true

  • And for those of us who are write-in candidates, knowing what is true is important.
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  • Great! Now I’m on the naughty list.
    (Full disclosure… I may have already been on the naughty list. Every year it’s a race with the devil and sometimes the devil wins.)
    First I made Kansas Governor Sam Brownback mad by “photoshopping” his face onto a Wizard of Oz style flying monkey on a column about moving Plum Island to the Kansas State University campus and now I have ticked off Santa Claus.
    According to an email I received last Saturday night, “My legal name is Santa Claus, and I am a candidate for President - recognized by the Federal Election Commission,” said the rare letter from Santa. “Instead of misleading your readers, perhaps you should join my more than 85,000 followers on Facebook (TheSantaClaus). My slogan is Restoring America's Heart and Soul.”
    This Santa Claus is real – contrary to what I published in last week’s column.
    He is a weirdo, but he is real. He is also grumpier than I expected the real Santa Claus to be.
    The man with the long white beard claims to have visited every state’s governor’s office and is recognized as a write-in candidate in about a third of the states.
    According to his Facebook page, Santa is a peace activist, child advocate and monk. If he could only find another peace activist, child-advocating monk to join his ticket, he could qualify to be a write-in candidate in even more states.
    Santa doesn’t quite get it.
    Rather than picking a running mate who agrees to be on the ticket, he is asking his Facebook fans to help him pick a running mate. He proposed former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich (who claims to have seen a UFO), former South Dakota Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin or singer-songwriter Tracey Chapman.
    I didn’t even know Tracey Chapman ever sang Christmas songs.
    And Santa Claus is a monk? I didn’t see that one coming.
    According to his website, (http://www.santaclausforpresident.com) “Prior to my Santa years, I served as Special Assistant to the Deputy Police Commissioner, Administration, of New York City (NYPD), Director of the Terrorism Research and Communication Center (TRACC), and Member of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Defense Executive Reserve.”
    “Prior to my Santa years,” may be the strangest phrase I have ever typed in a column.
    Santa Claus (known as Thomas O’Connor before a legal name change in 2005) says his platform includes the 10 key principles of the Green Party platform and parts of Ron Paul’s Restore America plan.
    Page 2 of 3 - I don’t know if any of that is true.
    And for those of us who are write-in candidates, knowing what is true is important.
    One neighbor bemoaned to me that if a person writes in “Mickey Mouse” on their ballot, the vote actually counts for Barack Obama. Of course, this is part of the election mythology that both sides employ to scare voters who would consider voting for someone outside the two major parties.
    You see, election officials have to be careful when counting votes. If you check a box for one of the main candidates, there is rarely any question - outside of Florida’s infamous hanging chads - as to voter intent.
    But if someone writes in a candidate, the officials are often forced to judge voter intent to determine where to award the vote.
    As an official candidate in Kansas, if someone tried to write me in but misspelled my name like the baseball stadium where the St. Louis Cardinals play, the official should be able to determine that the vote was intended for me. My running mate’s last name “Natvig” isn’t exactly “Smith” so if someone tries to include our entire ticket on the ballot and uses Bush and any combination of letters that resemble Natvig, that vote should also count for us.
    Even under the most liberal counting of the write-in votes, it is unlikely that our ticket can make a dent in Kansas.
    But what we have been able to do is point out that the Electoral College treats Kansas voters unfairly and keeps us from being a campaign battleground state.
    I wasn’t even alive the last time Kansas pledged it’s electoral votes to a Democrat. But if we changed the system and allowed Republicans in Kansas to make votes here matter, Mitt Romney might actually try to influence Kansas voters. But right now, he knows that more than half of Kansas voters are going to check the box beside his name. Whether he wins by one vote or one million, Romney will still only get six electoral votes.
    The winner-take-all system makes Kansas irrelevant. Every electoral vote in Kansas has gone to the Republican candidate since 1968. You won’t see Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan at a campaign event here. Barack Obama and Joe Biden won’t be holding rallies here either.
    If the results were in question, Kansans’ opinions would matter to the national parties.
    As it is, we are just a “red state” that is taken for granted and basically ignored.
    That isn’t good for us.
    Page 3 of 3 - The Electoral College creates this issue.
    That’s why I decided to run for President.
    I didn’t legally change my name to Santa Claus and I am not a monk.
    But I do think you should write in Bush-Natvig on Nov. 6 and tell our legislators you want your vote to matter.
    Kansas voters have a lot to offer.
    Any system that makes our votes seem irrelevant has to be amended.
     
     
    Kent Bush is the Augusta Gazette Publisher, a columnist and blogger for the GateHouse Media Network. He can be contacted at publisher@augustagazette.com.

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