Here in Guelph, mayoral candidates Ray Mitchell and Scott Nightingale have been written off my some as "fringe", "kooks" or "crazy". What experience do they have? Are they serious about their chances? Are they serious about the policy initiatives they're talking? Yes, they are serious and while both candidates say that their chances of election are slim to none, does that mean that their ideas and issues aren't any less important? I don't think so.
In that spirit, I highlight Jimmy McMillan. McMillan is a retired postal worker and Vietnam vet running for the Governor of New York State as the candidate for The Rent's 2 Damn High Party. His assertion is simple: rent is too damn high! In fact, he repeated the phrase again and again during the Gubernatorial debate last week, while asserting that under his plan he can create up to $6 million new jobs and generate about $6 trillion in surplus for the State of New York.
Now I'm not an economist, but those numbers I'm not so sure about. Regardless, the theoretical basis is sound: lower rent means more money people have to spent towards other things. Goods and services that could drive the market and generate jobs in New York State and beyond. And sure, sitting there in his handle-bar mustache, grey suit, black gloves and firing off rhyming couplets that put Jesse Jackson's famous eloquence to shame, McMillan seems like he's not quite ready for prime time, however I would offer two things. First, he's surely passionate about his cause, and second, he's not Carl Paladino, the Republican candidate that sent bestiality filled e-mails to workers and has a 10-year-old daughter out of wedlock with his secretary. Of course by Tea Party standards, Paladino is an upstanding, and moralistic leader. But I digress.
The Jimmy McMillans of the world are invaluable if only from the perspective of how trends work. Whether it's in politics or the arts, trends start small in like-minded groups of activists or iconoclasts and slowly build momentum until someone breaks it through into the mainstream. I'm not saying that Jimmy McMillan will soon be lauded into the Governor's mansion in Albany, but I think that the impact of the real estate sector on the recession thanks to stratospheric housing prices that didn't represent the true value of the property has been under-examined. Is Jimmy McMillan on to something? Time will tell.