It Sox to be You

It is amazing to see humans persevere even in the face of insurmountable odds. You see it a lot during election years, when third-party candidates run for president without a hope of winning, without a hope of gaining more than even a few thousand votes, without a hope of even becoming footnotes in American history. You also saw it, for the past 85 years, when Red Sox fans would root for their team even though they knew they weren’t going to win, simply because they were the Red Sox, and the Red Sox always choke like a fat kid in the ninth round of a pie-eating contest.

But the Red Sox’ victory in last week’s World Series gives hope to all the losers in the world, all the people who keep on trying even though there’s no realistic chance of succeeding. Because even the impossible can happen sometimes. Every 86 years or so, anyway.

The Red Sox’ success must have been especially encouraging to Michael Peroutka. Who is Michael Peroutka, you ask? Oh, man, I bet he wishes you already knew. He’s a Maryland man running for president on the Constitution Party ticket, primarily as an alternative for people who consider George W. Bush too liberal. His platform is: “God, Family, Republic,” and isn’t it sad that whenever a politician has those principles as the foundation of his platform, he is always a nutcase? God, family and republic are all great things, and we would do well to focus on them a little more. Yet whenever someone DOES focus on them, he tends to be a lunatic. Sad, really.

Anyway, it should not surprise you that Peroutka has followers in Utah, where I live. Peroutka’s Web site indicates he was “called to public service at an early age” — yes, “called,” apparently, though by whom the site does not say — and that he provides “leadership in support of the right to life, the right to keep and bear arms, and other Constitutional causes.” I note that people whose platforms rest on “God, Family, Republic” are usually big on guns, too.

The one note in Peroutka’s one-note campaign is the Constitution. All of his policies have their root in his reading of it. It’s his Bible, which is awkward, since the Bible is his Bible, too. If it’s not in the Constitution, he’s opposed to it. “The Federal Government should do nothing that is not specifically authorized by the Constitution,” he writes. This means, he says, that Medicare and the Department of Education are both out, since the Constitution says nothing about the federal government being involved in health care or education.

The amendments, he seems to take on a case-by-case basis. They’re not part of the original Constitution, of course, but some of them are OK. The Second Amendment, for example (the one about the guns), is God-given, but the 16th (establishing income tax) is pernicious.

On abortion, he says this: “I am so pro-life, that if elected I promise that abortion will end my first day in office.” His first day! I believe he plans to achieve this through the use of magic.

Peroutka’s major liability, aside from being crazy, is that he’s not a Republican or a Democrat. Like it or not, we have a two-party system in this country, and have had for nearly 200 years. The last time we had three viable candidates was in 1992, when an insane diminutive businessman named Ross Perot gave Bush Sr. and Clinton a run for their money. By 1996, he had skittered back into the woodpile and now works full-time as a historical footnote. No third-party candidate since then has even made a dent, but that doesn’t stop people like Peroutka and Ralph Nader from trying, if you can really call what Nader does “trying.”

Does Peroutka think he can win? Certainly not. At least, I hope not. I’d hate to think he’s delusional, too, on top of everything else. He probably runs in order to Make A Statement, as a Matter Of Principle. And people who vote for him might as well take their ballots and set them on fire, but at least they’re “voting their conscience,” as they say, as opposed to simply choosing the lesser of two evils, which is often what the two-party race comes down to. This year, it’s a choice between the hillbilly cowboy and the creepy-looking snob. Given that choice, I’d be tempted to vote for an obscure third-party candidate, too — or to not vote at all, which might actually be a more sensible thing. No sense wasting a ballot, after all.

But back to the Red Sox. I don’t even follow sports, and the powerful antidepressants have flatlined my emotions, but this was exciting for me. My interest was piqued early on because my roommate, Greg, is from Boston and is thus required by Massachusetts law to be an ardent Red Sox fan. (Michael Peroutka would have this law repealed immediately.) A few weeks ago, Greg said, “This is the year.” I said, “Don’t you people say that every year?” And he replied, “Yeah, but THIS is the year FOR REAL.”

And I shook my head sadly, dreading the day the Sox would be eliminated from the playoffs and Greg would become forlorn and despondent. Already he was glued to the TV every evening, watching the late-season games and occasionally muttering, “[Swear word]-ing Red Sox.” His love-hate relationship with his team was fascinating, not to mention vulgar.

Greg said he didn’t believe in superstitions or curses, and I tend to agree with him. Babe Ruth was a lot of things — obese, alcoholic, lecherous, etc. — but he wasn’t a shaman. He didn’t curse the Red Sox, nor did anyone else. The Red Sox cursed themselves by being crappy, and by letting that guy play who let that ball go through his legs during that one game.

But last Wednesday night, while TiVo was recording “Law & Order” for me, the Red Sox did the impossible and won the World Series. The people of Boston went on a beer-fueled city-wide rampage, overturning cars and dumping tea into the harbor with wild abandon. It had been 86 years since their beloved-behated Sox had won the World Series — or “86 [swear word]-ing years,” as Greg put it — and their celebration was well-deserved, not that the people of Boston really need an excuse to drink.

And so perhaps there is hope for the Peroutkas of the world. If the Red Sox can win the World Series, maybe anything is possible. Of course, the Constitution doesn’t say specifically that Peroutka CAN be president, so it will continue to be an uphill battle for him.

I made some jokes about Peroutka at my show in Provo in September, and the couple sitting on the front row were big Peroutka supporters. Whoops. Luckily, they could take a joke, and they managed to enjoy themselves the rest of the time, even though I had mocked their candidate. After the show, they gave me a Peroutka campaign DVD, which I'm sure I will get around to watching one of these days....