Inside Feature

GOAL: Equal time.

Surveying the ballot, one is struck by...an overwhelming surge of relief about the fact that none of these people can win. Still, it would be nice if a few got wider exposure. The great thing about protest candidates - as more mainstream alternative players like Pat Buchanan and Jerry Brown are demonstrating - is their loose-cannon role. They can make statements forbidden to candidates who actually have a chance. This, of course, is exponentially more true for the outright fringers. For all anybody cares, they could drop their pants, rant in a helium-altered voice, and waggle stars-and-stripes-painted genitals. (Note to Russ Hirshon: That's a copyrighted idea, so don't think about using it without sending a consultancy check.) Because the outcasts lack a national nominating convention, some other set-up is needed: a Koppel-esque "TV town meeting," say, or a series of C-SPAN interviews by that channel's fine, stone-faced, monotoned workhorse, Brian Lamb. ("Kip Lee, for the benefit of viewers who haven't heard it before, explain your theory that the Earth is hollow, and that inside it dwells a nightmare race of `super-cyclopses.'") This civic exercise would also serve to silence the complaining fringers who say they never get a chance to be heard. All it takes is someone with the cash to get the ball rolling. How about it, Money Men? We're looking at ten months of mundane campaigning, followed by four more years of President Library Paste. Pay for a National Fringe Forum; keep a polity from lapsing into a coma.

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