Attainer of Ultimate Enlightenment Alvin Greene Amused By Your Expectation That He Campaign
The Chosen One, Democratic Senate candidate Alvin Greene, still hasn't left his father's house in the backroads of South Carolina, but that hasn't stopped curious journalists and admirers from being drawn to him. And what could be more interesting than Alvin Greene? This man is everything a modern politician is not. But still, after achieving the amazing opportunity of magically becoming the candidate of a major party for U.S. Senate, why does he remain cooped up, unemployed and poor, in this house, rather than taking his message to the streets? The answer, obviously, is that Alvin Greene is a Daoist monk.
Time magazine has posted an enigmatic article detailing one such reporter's pilgrimage to Greene's hovel. Some editor has thrown up the title "At Home With South Carolina's Alvin Greene: Will the Carnival Act Get Serious?", yet if you read the article, you realize nothing could be more serious than what Alvin Greene is doing right now.
Are modern political campaigns "serious," or are they the carnival? Journalists treat these campaigns as serious, but could there ever be something more artificial, showy, and hollow in terms of substance than the expensive and embarrassing fashion in which American politicians run for office? By not taking part in all of this, Alvin Greene is bringing much needed balance to The Way of things, and we would be wise to recognize the truth of The Way from the way it is packaged for us.
Alvin Greene may be the only Democratic nominee in U.S. Senate election history to walk to his father's kitchen every time his telephone rings. And it rings every five minutes or so -- supporters he'll never meet, television and radio bookers hoping to juice ratings and reporters trying to figure out what Greene means for South Carolina and America's troubled democracy. "I don't have caller I.D.," Greene tells one caller. He also doesn't own a cell phone or a computer.
DAOIST MONK DAOIST MONK DAOIST MONK. C'mon, does he need to spell it out for us? Does he need to catch a fly out of the air and eat it? Does he need to wear an orange tunic?
Alvin Greene is not poor and unemployed out of circumstance, but out of choice. He has taken a vow of poverty, yet sees no need to explain this to us. What is the value of money? Why do we put so much effort into such an illusion? What is currency really but mere paper? Alvin Greene did file for the election with his own money -- because what is "his" and what is "theirs" when all is transitional. He, our nation's political messiah, has no use for such false, worldly things as politics.
"I am the best candidate for the United States Senate in South Carolina," Greene says, refreshingly simply. "And I am also the best person to be Time magazine's Man of the Year." CLASSIC DAOIST MONK HUMOR.
He is speaking now, between trips to the kitchen, in the living room, while his 81-year-old father, James, Sr., barefoot under a flannel blanket, dozes on the couch. Suddenly, the television flashes Greene's face, as a Fox News announcer teases an upcoming segment asking about the newbie's "mental state." This gets to Greene, who is tired of being treated by the press like a carnival act. "What about everyone else's mental state?" he asks, before breaking into a chuckle. "It seems like things don't apply to me. I'm the nominee, and 60 percent isn't 60 percent anymore."
When is 60 percent not 60 percent? When you live in such a country as ours, Greene seems to say. When you live so far out of step with The Way.
The reporter notes that Greene's opponent in the primary, Vic Rawl, was well-funded and "printed 10,000 bumper stickers, logged 17,000 miles crisscrossing the state in his hatchback, and paid for a 220,000 autodial phone calls before election day." Yet somehow nothing was more than this effort. Modern political campaigns are full of bullshit. If you amass more bullshit to attract the voters than the other guy, candidates seem to think, you win the election. Yet what if your opponent amasses no bullshit at all? Doesn't that stand the chance of attracting voters who can see bullshit for what it is?
"What Have You Done For The Win Today?", it says on a poster on the wall of Rawl campaign headquarters. First of all, you lost, Rawl campaign, yet you are so blind to The Way of things that you cannot recognize this simple fact. Second, who says things can be done for a win? Surprise election wins occur because we live in an unpredictable world that human beings can never truly capture and understand. There is nothing to stop you from winning except your not winning.
Meanwhile, the wise man amuses himself:
When first asked if he would grant an interview with TIME, Greene responded by asking a question of his own: "Does the candidate get paid?"
If there is an answer to the master's question, and there may not be, it is that every other candidate but Alvin Greene is paid, one way or the other, be it by something explicit like bribery or something more nuanced like becoming beholden to the interest groups and institutions that support you. If one does not campaign, if one makes no effort to align one's self with the whims of others, then one is truly free once in office.
Alvin Greene only once made a campaign sign in his life. It was for Jesse Jackson in 1988. It was made simply out of construction paper, as that which we make with our hands is the only thing we can know is real.
In an age when party ideology has been codified through decades of attractive and focus-grouped but ultimately undelivered promises and enforced on its members, Greene has only three issues: jobs, education and "justice in the judicial system." What could be simpler than this, and what could be more important than getting back to the basic necessities, in a country in such condition as ours? Jobs, education, and legalizing the showing of porn to college students. (What is more natural and necessary to existence than the act of reproduction? Yet even from this, that which creates us, we have become lost.)
"I talked to a lot of people, and a lot of people voted for [Greene]," Democratic state Rep. Todd Rutherford told MSNBC. "They can't tell me why. They just said that hey, they saw the name and they pushed the button."
They pushed the button. And in November, they will just push the button again. [Time]