Presidential hopeWritten by Karl Rundgren | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Hillary Clinton. John McCain. Barack Obama. Rudy Giuliani. It seems like every day another candidate announces that he or she is considering a run for the White House. Most of them are fairly traditional, instantly recognizable Democrats and Republicans with political histories. These are people who charge thousands of dollars per plate for fancy fund-raisers so they can muster all the cash it takes to be elected Commander-in-Chief.
Then there’s James McCall.
The Toledoan is, for lack of a better term, a regular guy. As he told me in a recent interview, “I work part time at Home Depot to make ends meet [and] have a little beer money for the American Legion every now and then.”
What makes McCall unique is that he’s joining the ranks of Clinton, McCain, and Obama, and running for president.
The Independent considered a campaign in 1992, but couldn’t devote enough time to the process. Now he has the time, and the desire. What he doesn’t have is recognition.
“Nobody knows who I am,” McCall said. “I’m not a sitting governor, I’m not a sitting senator. I don’t have some huge political background that makes me famous … so I don’t get the instantaneous coverage and exposure on a nationwide basis, like the other candidates. So it’s kind of brutal.”
As a result, McCall knows he’s a long-shot, without the financial power of his counterparts. You might think he’d be looking for ways to raise as much money as possible, so he can buy campaign ads, bumper stickers, and more.
Instead, he’s limiting himself.
“Two hundred dollars is the maximum I will accept from anyone, because I would never want to assume the people’s top office having any particular allegiance or obligation to huge corporate or special interest groups.”
Despite all that, McCall is confident he can win the 2008 election. That confidence might come from his ideas, which are as unique as his campaign. For starters, he would work to abolish the federal income tax, replacing it with a federal sales tax. He supports a national health care system, calling it a “fundamental human entitlement.” He is fiercely intent on securing America’s borders, to the point that he would recommend using the Armed Forces along with a fence. He supports Social Security, but feels drastic changes are necessary to ensure that everyone who pays in gets their due.
McCall is only a write-in candidate, and his odds of winning are, well, slim. I’m not endorsing him, or any other candidate. Still, I feel his campaign deserves some special attention, since it serves a different kind of purpose.
We’ve all heard the canned speeches and rhetoric of traditional campaigns, and we’ve all watched as more and more Americans have become disenfranchised. They’re watching as Washington is increasingly run by political dynasties focused on keeping their power. People increasingly feel insignificant and forgotten.
It’s to these people that McCall is turning, offering a change and a choice. Out of everything McCall told me about the issues and his reasons for running, there was one thing that stood out.
“A lady came up to me in a restaurant one day while I was talking to a friend about some of these things,” McCall said. “She had been sitting in the booth behind me … and she came up to me and put a $20 bill in my shirt pocket. I asked her, ‘Why are you doing this?’
She said, ‘I’ve been listening to your views and I agree with you 100 percent. I’m not a wealthy woman, but … I’d like to help you help us.’ ”
McCall gave her a T-shirt. He also gave her hope. When’s the last time a candidate gave you that?
Karl Rundgren is managing editor and co-anchor of Fox Toledo News.