From truck drivers and Mensa members, to Satanists and Druids, the “other” candidates for president list in the hundreds. Other, more prominent names flesh out these lists as well, such as Ralph Nader and Alan Keyes. And a number of smaller party activists from the likes of the Green and Libertarian Parties also fill its ranks. So, do any of these American citizens making use of their freedom to run for president have anything to say about the nation’s cities?
One candidate has called on Congress to pay attention to its backyard and make Washington a model city. George Phillies, a Libertarian candidate, stresses education and unemployment as priorities in this effort. Although he laments the state of the schools, and complains that Congress simply throws money at them, he offers no solutions. As for unemployment, he calls for a loosening of regulation for small businesses. “There’s no sensible reason to harass people who want to drive a jitney, braid a neighbor’s hair, or watch a neighbor’s children during the day,” Phillies says.
The green collar jobs banner is flown by Green Party hopeful Kent Mesplay. Like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Mesplay has announced a goal of creating 5 million of these jobs. He would redirect fossil fuel subsidies towards “training and providing jobs for inner city youth and veterans, to retrofit the nation’s homes and buildings and conserve 20 percent of our energy use by 2015, if not sooner.”
National trends toward a crack down on quality of life offenses and the endangerment of civil liberties are a couple of the major concerns within America’s cities, according to former Congressman Bob Barr. Barr, who also seeks the Libertarian nod, sees a worrisome state of affairs resulting from the increasingly tough stance on relatively minor quality of life infringements. “More and more, local officials are turning to the police to handle problems rather than working to resolve the problems themselves,” he says. “These moves appear based on the notion that quality of life can best or most easily be enhanced at the point of a gun. Police forces in our country were never intended to serve as society’s enforcers of ‘quality of life.’” He also raises concerns about the level of surveillance in cities.
Independent candidate Blake Ashby places the nation’s housing woes squarely on the back of President George W. Bush’s tax cuts. “People with lots of money suddenly had found money, unexpected money to find a place for,” he says, which led them to take risks they wouldn’t normally take, like funding speculation on subprime mortgages.
Granted, this is just a snapshot of this overlooked portion of the race. But in a field where people campaign drabbed in anything from a cartoon style cowboy hat to full drag, one can only do so much in a small piece format.