Wikinews interviews Joe Schriner, Independent U.S. presidential candidate

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Journalist, counselor, painter, and US 2012 Presidential candidate Joe Schriner of Cleveland, Ohio took some time to discuss his campaign with Wikinews in an interview.

Schriner previously ran for president in 2000, 2004, and 2008, but failed to gain much traction in the races. He announced his candidacy for the 2012 race immediately following the 2008 election. Schriner refers to himself as the "Average Joe" candidate, and advocates a pro-life and pro-environmentalist platform. He has been the subject of numerous newspaper articles, and has published public policy papers exploring solutions to American issues.

Wikinews reporter William Saturn‎ talks with Schriner and discusses his campaign.


 ((William Saturn )) I was reading the January 2009 article In the 2008 presidential campaign, it was Joe the Plumber. In 2012, it’s going to be Joe the Painter from the Star Beacon , and it says that you're "a former print journalist and addictions counselor who switched to house painting when he felt guided to run for president." Why did you feel guided to run for president?

 ((Joe Schriner )) Ok, ‘Joe the painter’… While the Star Beacon article was done quite well as a whole, the wording in this part about ‘the presidency and house painting’ is a bit too abbreviated, and a bit too disjointed. The more accurate version is… I have a degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and have worked for several intermediate sized newspapers in Ohio. A ways into this, I changed professions and became a licensed chemical dependency counselor who started one of the first outpatient treatment programs in the Midwest for people who were raised in addictive/dysfunctional families. (As an aside, during Campaign 2000, I told CBS News in Monterey, that: “To heal the country, we have to heal the family.” [1] After working in the chemical dependency field for about eight years, I felt a spiritual prompting – as other people at times feel spiritual promptings to do any number of things – to leave this profession and go out on the road to look for people trying to make a difference when it came to things like healing the family, saving the environment, helping the poor, creating peace [2]...I felt compelled to gather these stories, using my journalism background, then share them with others – with the hopes of planting “seeds of change.” After a long, considered discernment process, I decided to go on the road and left Cleveland, in 1990. This was the start of an eight-year research period where I logged close to 100,000 miles. What I learned was a lot of tremendously creative, common sense solutions to practically all the issues of our day. Armed with this, I started to running for president in 1999, and have been doing it ever since (four successive election cycles). In each newspaper interview, each radio show, each speech... I share parts of what I researched with the hopes people will try some of it in their own town, and who knows how far out it will ripple from there. (I found that running for president is a great way to get a message out. And yes, I am indeed trying to win as well. Then I could get the information out a lot quicker, and further.) Now as far as the house painting, because I'm on the road some six to eight months a year campaigning, it's logistically quite hard to hold down a counseling or journalism job. So, instead, I do some part-time house painting to make ends meet. And thus, “Joe the painter.” [3] Note: As an example, in the heart of Buffalo, I interviewed Dr. Myron Glick who felt his own 'spiritual prompting' to move his family to inner city Buffalo and start the Jericho Road Health Clinic. He uses a minimal sliding fee scale and has seen people from at least 50 different countries (Buffalo is a port city). Why? Because he's Christian, he told me, and it is Jesus Christ' edict that we help the poor. I have shared Dr. Glick's story all over the country, with the hopes of inspiring other doctors to consider doing some version of the same. And each time that happens, I get a component of our healthcare bill passed – and another little kid living below the poverty line gets the medical help they might have otherwise not gotten. For more on our healthcare position paper, see [4] or, listen to my “Fireside Podcast” on healthcare, and podcasts on other pressing issues of the day, at [5]

 ((WS )) When you announced your candidacy following the 2008 election, you remarked that this would be your final run. Why did you make that decision, and why did you announce your candidacy so early in the electoral process?

 ((JS )) Given the strategy about using running for president as a way of getting a message out to help change America now, I always announce early and start hitting the road often just as early. For instance, I was just on the front page of the LaGrange (GA) News talking about a project we'd researched (the Alterna Project) to provide long-term, affordable housing for new Hispanic immigrants in a community setting. Now if I had walked in the doors of that newspaper, approached an editor and said: “Hi. I'm Joe from Cleveland and I have some great ideas I'd like to share with you.” He/she would have looked at me, not like I was from Cleveland, but rather like I was from, oh, Mars... Also being on the road early, gives me that much more time to continue my cross country research for our position papers, and such. [6] And it gives me more time to, well, campaign in general. When you're short on Lear Jets and have to travel in a 1984 family camper, it just takes you a bit more time to get around. “America is a lot bigger than it looks on the map,” I often joke. And as far as this being our final run... we're planning on winning this time. [7] Although it just occurred to me that when I win this time, I'll have to run again for a second term. They don't call me “average Joe” for nothing. (My wife Liz says I’m sometimes a bit short on forward planning.) For more about Liz [8].

 ((WS )) Back in 2000, Steve Chawkins with Ventura County News, wrote to you "You won't win, you won't be president." Why do you believe you lost that particular election as well as the 2004 and 2008 elections? What have you done differently during this run?

 ((JS )) Why I didn't win in 2000, 2004 and 2008? I didn't get enough votes. (Sorry.) Actually, each election I have been somewhat quietly, and under-the-radar, going about meeting with people on the ground, giving talks, doing local media, putting up fliers...We do all the things the other campaigns do, only with a much smaller budget. I recently told the Sun News in Lakewood, that this, indeed, is “...a serious attempt by an average citizen to run for president.” Yet as for the current state of election dynamics in America, we're up against this huge Goliath(s), and our 'sling shot and stone' – if one allows that metaphor – will be sparking a grassroots revolution. But for this to happen, and for this to become a national story with staying power (and not a 15-minutes-of-fame national media blip), people would have to know that there has been tremendous depth and breadth to the research and campaigning. (As just another example, I have traveled more than 80,000 miles campaigning in the past 11 years. And I might well be the most well traveled presidential candidate (domestic road miles) -- in the history of U.S. politics.) [9] So as to what we'll do different in this election? Not much. I intend to stick to our “back road to the White House” strategy [10] , continuing to go from town to town – waiting for that long caravan – both literally and metaphorically – to start lining up behind us.

 ((WS )) In some sources it says you are running for the Green Party nomination, while in others it says you are running as an Independent. Let's clear this up, are you running for any particular party's nomination, or as an Independent?

 ((JS )) I have primarily run as an independent candidate during these four election cycles. And I am currently running as an independent candidate now. However, in 2007 I vied for the presidential nomination with the Green Party. [11] I didn't get their nomination, yet I continued to run in the 2008 election as an independent candidate. For campaign 2012, I might vie for the Green Party nomination again, once their Primary process starts. Or, and this is another possibility, there has been some talk over the years of a “fusion candidacy” among Third Parties. That is, say, the Constitution Party, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party... would all get behind a single presidential candidate to increase the chances of a Third Party candidate winning. If this evolves, I would consider vying for that kind of candidacy as well. Running with a Party increases your chances of getting ballot access exponentially.

 ((WS )) How large is your campaign?

 ((JS )) In comparison to the size of most major two Party campaigns, I once told a network news show in Indianapolis, in response to a similar question about our size: “Think the movie Hoosiers.” This, by the way, played well in Indiana.

Has your campaign received any notable endorsements?

 ((JS )) Bill Samuels, president of the organization Consistent Life, has personally endorsed us in several campaigns. (Consistent Life embodies valuing the sanctity of life at all stages from the “womb to the tomb” and is a network uniting organizations and individuals who support a consistent life ethic. Their issues revolve around improving a spectrum of issues from poverty, to healthcare, to abortion, to global warming... and anything else that has the potential to end life prematurely.) “[Schriner] is a Christian who is running as a consistent life ethic candidate. He is right on all the life issues on which Obama is wrong,” Samuel wrote in 2008… Then there have been the media endorsements. Some examples: “...he (Schriner) seems to make a lot more sense than most politicians I try not to listen to.” Steve Zender, editor, The Progressor-Times newspaper, Carey. “Isn't our generation ready to truly make our world better? The first step? Vote for Joe!” Leah Beth Bryson, columnist for The Vision student newspaper, Lambuth University. “A lot of what Joe says really would come across as good, common sense to many Americans. They would gladly have someone like him leading the country...” --editor David Green, The Observer, Morenci. Then there have been all the 'average Joe' endorsements – 'notable' to us – from around the U.S. The following are a smattering of excerpts from a few of these comments (which came in e-mails and letters): “Just wanted you to know that I'm really impressed with all the research on a variety of local initiatives Mr. Schriner has done. I was looking for a candidate I could actually support, and I found one here.” --Iowa. “I had been searching for a candidate with a consistent life ethic, a commitment to actively working for peace and justice, and concern for the environment... I will happily support you at the voting booth today.” – Washington. “I was tired of not voting for someone, but rather against the other main candidate.” --Ohio “My conscience will be clear when I leave the voting booth... and I approve of this message.” --Georgia. And from more short media takes on the campaign… [12]

 ((WS )) Describe to me an average day in the life of Joe Schriner. How do you spend your time?

Schriner's family
Image: Joe Schriner.

 ((JS )) When I'm on the road campaigning, my day looks something like this. (Incidentally, we often move from town to town daily, where versions of this template repeat over, and over, and...). First, we generally get up early and either go to Mass, or do family prayer. Then after breakfast (often oatmeal), Liz starts to do homeschooling – or as we colloquially refer to it: “motor-home schooling” – with our three children. [13] Meanwhile I'll go, often unannounced, to a local newspaper (radio stations, TV stations...) and inform them about a corner whistle-stop event we'll be doing at noon in their town. Sometimes they'll have me stay to do an interview right then, other times they'll send a reporter to the event. Around 10:30 a.m., we'll go to a local library where Liz will continue with the homeschooling and I'll update our campaign website blog about the events of the day before. [14] Shortly before noon, we'll arrive at the downtown venue where we'll unfurl banners, flags and go into “street corner whistle-stop mode.” We'll wave and call out to passing motorists, the kids and I will walk about passing out fliers, our young Jonathan will try to get passing truck drivers to honk... It's all rather festive. Afterward we do media interviews, [15] then head out to lunch at Taco Bell, or wherever. After some Dollar Menu bean burritos, we'll take the kids to a park or local YMCA where we all exercise a bit. Afterward, a variety of things might happen. Sometimes we go door-to-door in a town passing out fliers and putting them up in downtown businesses as well. Other times, there's a brief window of time in the late afternoon, and early evening, to write the speech for an event we're doing later that night. Other times we'll take the kids to, say, a Little League ballgame early in the evening. And as they watch the game, I go about passing out campaign literature and talking with folks. Other evenings, we're meeting with supporters in their homes, or I'm out doing research on one of the projects we've come across, or for that matter, I'm sometimes out throwing the football around with the boys... Then, as the evening starts to wind down, we'll look for somewhere to park – whether a campground, church parking lot, Wal-Mart parking lot... And as the kids settle in, we tell “stories from the road,” or read the kids a book, or the kids will draw, write letters, do Lego stuff on their own... We then say evening prayers together as a family before the kids go to sleep. And finally, Liz and I will often stay up late playing Scrabble, or talking about the day, or working on the scheduling and itinerary for the next several stops. Or some nights, after a day of, well, too close quarters with the kids, Liz and I will simply sit and stare out the camper windows, in silence. Silence that is only occasionally broken by an exhausted Liz, or an exhausted me, repeating the refrain: “I think we need a staff.”

 ((WS )) If you had complete power at this moment, what would you do? How would you change America?

 ((JS )) If this means complete power, as opposed to having to deal with the checks and balances built into our federal government, this is some of what I'd do: I'd end abortion and all the precipitating factors leading to it (poverty, dysfunctional family dynamics, relaxed sexual mores, alcohol and drug addiction...). I'd mobilize a set of dramatic initiatives to, not just curb global warming, but to actually start to reverse it. I would unilaterally disarm our nuclear weapons. I'd stop the production of nuclear energy. (Anybody hear of Chernobyl?) I would grant amnesty and family reunification to illegal immigrants. [16] (During a talk at an immigration rally in Arizona several years ago, I said we walked through the slums of Juarez, where violence is off the charts and many of the children are extremely hungry. If I was their parent, I'd do everything I could to get these children out of harms way and get them something to eat – even if it meant risking crossing the border illegally.) I would end the death penalty. Also in Arizona, I read a newspaper story about a death penalty protester who posed: “Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?” Good question. I would increase, exponentially, American foreign aid (it is currently only 4% of the budget) to try to help stem world hunger much more – 24,000 people starve to death every day in the world – and to help realize Habitat for Humanity's goal of providing adequate housing, (“…for every person in the world.”) I would bring peace to urban war zones around the country. [17] (In part of this effort, our family moved into a dangerous part of Cleveland, Ohio, to be part of the solution.) I would end homelessness. (We take homeless people into our home. And we will be doing the same in the West Wing. I mean the Lincoln bedroom is free, as an example.) I would tremendously jack down and simplify the economy, shifting America back to much more of a local production for local consumption orientation, like it was in the “old days.” I would mobilize efforts for a tremendous come back of the small family farm and the practice of growing organically. This was once the backbone of our country, I told the newspaper Country Today in Wisconsin. And it should be again. [18] I would get people to tighten their belts and pay off the National Debt so our children don't inherit it. During a talk at the University of Notre Dame recently, I said I would redirect the technical smarts at NASA toward coming up with better water filtration systems, solar panels, wind turbines..., as opposed to working on things like going to space destinations where we: can't breathe the air, there's no gravity and there's no food! “That might be, oh, a hint God doesn't want us there,” I said. I would give some of the land back to the Native Americans so it's equitable, like it should have been from the beginning. [19] And I would give the African Americans tangible reparations for past atrocities and the ongoing trans-generational problems slavery caused. And, I would ensure – as impossible as this seems – that the Cleveland Browns had a winning season, soon... For a look at how I would actually try to make a lot of this happen, the Cleveland Browns notwithstanding, go to my rather extensive position papers at [20]

 ((WS )) When you say "we are left of the Green Party,” does that mean you view yourself as a socialist?

 ((JS )) No, I'm not a socialist. In the article you allude to, I made that comment (as I often do) in relationship to being “left of the Green Party” when it comes to the environment. And that's hard to do. If fact, I told the Freemont Messenger newspaper in Ohio that when it comes to helping the environment, no Party even comes close to matching the Green Party. I have merely used the 'left of the Green Party' thing to illustrate how serious we are about the environment. During a Third Party presidential candidate debate at the National Press Club in Washington, I said that our family had established a “Kyoto Protocol Home Zone.” We don't use air conditioning, cut the thermostat back in the winter, dry clothes on the line, recycle practically everything, live simply with few material items, bicycle or walk practically everywhere within a five-mile radius of our home, use lights sparingly... And at the White House, we'd be doing the same. Not to mention, there would be solar panels and a wind turbine on the White House roof. Our point being that we can't wait for something more tangible than the Copenhagen Accord at this point, but rather the time for each American to voluntarily act on this is: now! Note: We have traveled extensively looking at things like a wind turbine installation in Mandan; a geothermal home installation in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan ($17 heating bill in: January); a Southwest Sustainability Project for retrofitting homes with insulation and alternative energy... And our administration would attempt to move America away from being the leading 'Society of Consumers' in the world, to be the leading 'Society of Conservers.' I mean if we're going to lead, why not lead in the right way – for our kids and for future generations. At the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, I interviewed Winona LaDuke. Ms. LaDuke is an Ojibwe Tribe member who ran for vice-president with Ralph Nader in Campaign 2000. She said her tribe believes they are environmentally responsible for the next: seven generations.

 ((WS )) As a former addictions counselor, would you like to see some prohibitions on the sale of alcohol? Would you consider yourself a member of the temperance movement?

Joe Schriner campaign photo
Image: Joe Schriner.

 ((JS )) I would, indeed, be an advocate for temperance (more responsible drinking); but not for a return to prohibition. At the outset, let me draw some parallels to smoking. It was determined that smoking was hazardous to one's health. (Currently more than 160,000 people die of lung cancer each year, as an example.) Then there are other smoking related respiratory issues (like emphysema), and second hand smoke issues, and... In light of all this, anti-smoking campaigns gained incremental traction over the past 50 years. These led to eventually getting cigarette smoking ads banned in many media and created a climate favorable for significantly increased taxes on cigarettes. (President Obama just signed a law increasing federal tax on cigarettes from 32 cents a pack to $1 a pack.) And a wide variety of programs started up to alert youth about the dangers of smoking. As a result of all this, fewer than 20% of adult Americans still smoke, according to a recent Time Magazine article. This figure is down significantly from when the campaign started... Now, while again, I'm not advocating prohibition, common sense says you have to look at the level of drinking in our society at this point – and how destructive it's becoming. As a former addictions counselor, I did indeed see the destruction alcohol can wreak. It lubricates things like domestic violence between spouses, child abuse, broken families... During our cross country research, I also interviewed Mark West, who started a cutting edge two-year treatment model for recovering alcoholics and addicts in prisons nationwide. He said 80% of prisoners these days have committed crimes under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or were trying to get money for alcohol or drugs when they committed the crime(s). Then there are all the alcohol related traffic fatalities and maiming. Then factor in all those alcoholics who have died of cirrhosis of the liver, or have hemorrhaged to death internally from alcohol addiction, or who have committed suicide under the influence. And add to all this, the number of people in mental institutions with “wet brains” and other mental health complications from alcoholism. In essence, the numbers with all this are staggering. And by comparison, because of the tremendously broad ramifications, alcohol abuse has a much more wide sweeping effect on society than smoking... So, like with cigarettes, our administration would push for things like a significant jump in taxes on alcohol. The higher costs, like with cigarettes, will curtail some drinking. Like with what happened with smoking, we would also push for banning drinking ads in the media (There is currently more money spent on ads for alcohol, than on any other product in America.) Another strategy that we're looking at is proposing: drinking licenses. Seriously. A former bartender in Columbiana County, proposed this to us. For instance, he said just like with getting a driver's license, there should be a written test for a drinking license. It would cover such topics as how many drinks it takes approximately to move one's blood alcohol level over the legal limit in a state. Another set of questions might include identifying the signs and symptoms of alcoholism. In the event of, say, a DWI, or other criminal offense (robbery, domestic violence...) involving alcohol, a person's drinking license could be revoked for a period of time. And if he/she was caught drinking during this time, more penalties would be levied.

 ((WS )) Your Pro-Life stance seems to be a big issue in your campaign. What are your thoughts on Scott Roeder, who assassinated George Tiller? Was this action justified? How far are you willing to go to end abortion?

 ((JS )) I believe abortion is a form of murder. And I told the Range News in Wilcox, that with abortion American society has “become its own worst terrorist.” During an abortion, a baby is systematically dismembered in the mother's womb, then suctioned out. I mean, c'mon! Yet even with all this (some 4,000 abortions a day in America now), I don't condone the George Tiller killing. Because, well, it's yet another 'killing.' As I mentioned earlier, I don't believe in the death penalty in any form – even a pro-life vigilante one. I give talks all over the country explaining that I believe that if pro-life people really want to end this evil, they need to organize – much better than they are now – and take to the streets en mass, day in and day out, the same as what was mobilized in the South to end the evil of Segregation. (We've reached the 50 million abortion mark since 1973. That's staggering!)) People should regularly be out with protest signs, not just in front of abortion clinics, but in their neighborhoods. As we've traveled, our family has protested on neighborhood street corners and in front of abortion clinics in California, Michigan, Massachusetts, Ohio, Florida, North Dakota... And we'd be doing the same as the First Family, I told the Lewiston Argus newspaper in Montana.) What's more, the newspapers should be flooded with an avalanche of pro-life letters to the editor. Legislator offices should be deluged with pro-life letters. A lot of people in the South didn't want Segregation to end, but they wanted the protests to end even more. So, eventually, Segregation ended. It could well be the same with abortion. Note: As I mentioned earlier, I would also work stridently to help end precipitating factors (poverty, dysfunctional family dynamics, relaxed sexual mores, alcohol and drug addiction...) that lead to many abortions. As I would work to highlight models for the many crisis pregnancy centers we've researched across the country. Centers that provide food, shelter, clothing, college scholarship money, day care... for moms (and dads) who want to keep their baby. We’ve researched these centers in Minnesota, Indiana, Rhode Island… For more on our stance on abortion, see: [21] or for a more in-depth paper, see [22]

 ((WS )) What are your thoughts on President Obama?

 ((JS )) Mixed. Given, for instance, my stance on abortion (last answer), I find Mr. Obama's strong backing of abortion extremely troubling. Conversely, I find his efforts toward scaling back nuclear weapons, cutting down on greenhouse gases, getting more access to healthcare for individuals... as commendable (and in line with the Consistent Life Ethic I espouse). I would, however, push for much stronger action on each of these fronts. (Granted President Obama might have as well in some of these categories, but, as has been the case with healthcare, he has been hamstrung to a degree by Congress.) I do disagree with the president's troop surge strategy in Afghanistan. I believe this will lead to a situation analogous to what essentially devolved into the 'Iraq quagmire.' And I believe the stepped up drone attacks in the mountain region between Pakistan and Afghanistan is a mistake, considering all the civilians being killed. (What we so often refer to as a war's “inevitable collateral damage,” is: children, moms, dads...) Admittedly however, when it comes to both Afghanistan and Iraq, Mr. Obama inherited tremendous dilemmas, with no easy solutions. On the environmental/energy front, I strongly disagree with Mr. Obama's plans for more drilling offshore in the Atlantic, and promoting a new generation of nuclear energy plants... For more on our energy policy, see: [23] In regard to personal characteristics, I do admire Mr. Obama's tenacity, which was demonstrated graphically in the last election process and with his relentless pursuit of the healthcare bill. An addendum: There has been much written about Mr. Obama's oratory skills and negotiating skills. Yet I believe this has to be weighed in the context of: Is he saying the right stuff? Is he negotiating for the right stuff? In my opinion, not always.

 ((WS )) What are your thoughts on the Tea Party movement?

 ((JS )) I just recently read a Newsweek article about the Tea Party. An excerpt that particularly caught my eye was: The Tea Party rejects the idea that “...a government of brainy people can solve thorny problems through complex legislation." The Tea Party finds its strongest spirit among conservative Republicans. Yet a powerful current of 'blame both sides' also pulses through the movement.” Lynne Roberts, a volunteer organizer of a Tea Party gathering in Albany, New York said: “We're equally disgusted with Republican and Democrat Congressmen.” ...The day I was answering this question for this article, I was also interviewed by the Americus (GA) Enterprise newspaper. I said when you objectively step back from society and take a look—we have a mess. We have a $13 trillion National Debt and we are mired in a deep recession. We have just crossed the 50 million abortion threshold. Global warming looms as a scary doomsday scenario. Violence and poverty are almost off the charts in many of our big city urban cores. Our prisons are bursting at the seams. Children are being shot in schools and abducted from the streets… And one of the main common denominators in this: For the last couple decades, we've had 'brainy' presidents who have come out of Yale or Harvard. So what does this say? I believe it says that, apparently, the education one receives at Yale or Harvard (while impressive to many), isn't the type of education that equips people to, well, solve many of the societal problems I just mentioned. I mean if it was... I told the reporter in Georgia that to solve the National Debt problem, for instance, we need a common sense president – “with a calculator that works.” I’m serious. But it's not just the presidents (Congress people, Wall Street bankers, corporate CEOs...), it's us, the American people. We have gotten ourselves into this mess. We're in this global warming crisis, as an example, not because the politicians failed to come up with tangible measures at carbon dioxide reduction in Copenhagen; but rather because many of us are failing here. We drive too much, use too much air conditioning, heat too much, buy too much (it takes the burning of fossil fuels to make the products)... We're a society addicted to comfort and immediate gratification. And what's more, just like an alcoholic, we don't want our politicians confronting us about it. So we elect people who don't confront us – and the dysfunction (read: destruction) continues. For a candid look at what we propose for global warming, see: [24] and [25]

 ((WS )) Which historical figure do you most identify with and why?

 ((JS )) George Plimpton. He was a rather famous sports journalist who was known for 'walking a mile in an athlete's shoes.' For instance, he spent a spring training practicing with the Detroit Lions and even played quarterback for several downs during an exhibition game. He then went on to write the book: Paper Lion from the experience. And that's how I've been, to a degree, as a presidential candidate. That is, I try to live the platform I espouse. For instance, as part of our urban platform, we exhort some people in suburban and small town America to roll up their sleeves and move into the urban cores of LA, Chicago, Minneapolis... to work on systemically changing things.(Just throwing more money and police presence at the problem is like metaphorically putting a band aid on something that needs major surgery.) Taking our own advice – in a very 'Plimpton-like' manner – our family moved from Bluffton (pop. 3,857 and think Mayberry) to a hardscrabble part of Cleveland (the poorest big city in the country). We moved into a block where a group of Catholic Workers were living every 3rd or 4th house down from each other. There we all helped transform an old asphalt parking lot into an urban farm, volunteered at a drop-in center for the marginalized up the street; coached Rec. Center soccer and baseball teams (many of the kids not having dads at home) [26] and [27] ... Besides participating in the transformation of this area, like George Plimpton again, I wrote a book about the experience titled America's Best Urban Neighborhood...[28] We also, as another example, promote an agricultural platform that would push for the return of the small family farm, en mass. And as we traveled the country, not only did we research the various dynamics of the family farm, but our family worked on a number of them as well. This included chores like chopping wood, bailing hay, weeding by hoe in an organic bean field… And these were not 20-minute photo-ops, so to speak. These were long, sweaty days out on the farm. The essence of my candidacy has been ‘being on the ground’ and working side-by-side with ordinary folks, listening to their thoughts, translating them into positions… Ours, truly, is an ‘American peoples’ platform.’ Note: While not a bona-fide historical figure (more fiction, but you wish he was real), I also identify with: Rocky. [29] “Some may feel it’s another Rocky Balboa story about an Ohio man against the millionaires.” -- Alban Mehling, Associated Content

 ((WS )) Could you take this test, and let us know where you stand on the political spectrum?

Schriner's results for the World's Smallest Political Quiz

 ((JS )) On the test, I scored as a “centrist.” (Surprised me too.)

 ((WS )) Anything else you want to add?

 ((JS )) Anything else I want to add… My wife Liz and I are running for president as “concerned parents from the Midwest.” What we’re concerned about is the alarming increase in climate change, the scary levels of nuclear proliferation (including in this country, even with the new treaty with Russia), mounting violence in our inner cities and stark abject poverty in the Third World. Then there’s astronomical national debt, 4,000 babies being killed in their mothers’ wombs here each day, endless war, terrorism… During Campaign 2004, I told a newspaper reporter in La Cross, that I didn’t want to be sitting on my death bed someday, staring our children in the eye and saying: “I knew all this stuff was going on, but I was too busy making money.” So our family gave up our normal lives and took to the roads of America to look for solutions to these dilemmas. And we found them, in the most unlikely of places at that. We found how to balance the National Budget in tiny Atwood (pop. 1,500). We found how to stop abortion in Portland. We found how to end nuclear proliferation in Luck. We found how to stop terrorism in w:Comers, Georgia. And we found how to realign most of the rest of America in Bluffton (pop. 3,857), ‘America’s best town.’ [30] and [31] And as these were the most unlikely of places, the people behind the projects were often the most unlikely of people. That is, they were often common sense people with the common good in mind. Not profit. Not fame. Just the common good. We’ve done, maybe, more than 1,000 interviews with these types of people. And from these interviews, as I mentioned before, we’ve developed a solid platform. The best platform out there for where the country needs to go at this point, we believe. You see, in the face of all the pressing problems I describe at the outset of this particular answer, a lot of the current policies seem to me to be “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.” What we need is leadership at this point that can steer the boat away from the iceberg altogether, and quick. (That is, ironically enough, if there’s going to be any iceberg’s left in the wake of global warming.) Our common sense platform does that, in spades. So Americans have a choice this next election. They can go with yet another Ivy League type choice, contemplating the refrain: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Or they can go with this quite “average” family from Cleveland, who will bring good old fashion common sense (think Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) to a White House that will look, oh, a bit different—including perhaps even the color. I mean knowing my wife (soon to be First Lady), she’ll have me painting stuff there on the weekends. I’m thinking about going with, like, a soft green on the outside. [32] --Joe P.S. Don’t let the occasional humor fool you. This is, indeed, a very serious attempt by an average citizen to run for president. And wouldn’t it be refreshing if someone like me won?

For more see:
Sample additional news articles on the campaign:


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