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So Crazy It Just Might Work

In one of the 2007 presidential debates - and I mean one of the 2,007 debates that they've held so far, not debates held in the year 2007 - Tim Russert asked Democratic hopeful Dennis Kucinich if, as Shirley MacLaine reported in a recent book, he has ever seen a UFO. The candidate answered, "I did."

Almost immediately, Kucinich was mocked by Republicans and others, and had his intelligence and mental health called into question. There was a similar response when three of the Republican candidates at another debate claimed they did not believe in evolution. My point is that everybody has beliefs that somebody else considers crazy.

So at least for the duration of this column, let's not look at these things as the opinions of "nuts" and "wackos." Let's look at them as "minority opinions." And remember, just because only a minority believes in something doesn't mean that they're wrong. So let's cut these minority believers some slack, whether they believe in ghosts, that the earth is flat, or that President Bush's Iraq policy is working out great.

As far as the UFO issue is concerned, before Republicans laugh too loudly, they should remember that Ronald Reagan claimed to have seen UFOs twice. And despite his aides' advice, like Kucinich, Reagan was not afraid to admit that he had seen them.

All of this got me thinking. Hardly anyone believes that Kucinich has a chance of getting the Democratic nomination, let alone winning the presidency. But I think there is a way he could win. He should make more of his "close encounter," and try to get all the people who say they believe in UFOs to vote for him.

About 34 percent of Americans believe in UFOs. If Kucinich could just get all of the registered voters of that group to vote for him, he'd have a great start.

But why stop there? If I were advising Kucinich, I'd tell him to go after all the people who have been called "crazy," "irrational," or just plain "silly" because of their beliefs.

After all, another 34 percent of Americans believe in ghosts, 13 percent believe that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day, while about 7.5 percent believe that an article of clothing will bring them good luck. Six percent believe the moon landing was faked, 20 percent think the Sun revolves around the Earth, 27 percent believe they have been reincarnated and were another person in a previous life, and 19 percent believe there's at least a good chance that Elvis is still alive.

So people with "minority opinions" make up a demographic that is generally ignored by most candidates. And it's not a small demographic. I'm going to add up all the percentages of people with these beliefs. OK, it comes to a total of 160.5 percent of the American people. Wait, that can't be right. Even though I'm used to election results not making arithmetical sense, I know that 160.5 percent is a bit high. I guess the reason for this large number is that some people with minority beliefs belong to more than one category. I'll bet a lot of people who have lucky shirts also believe Friday the 13th is an unlucky day, and some who believe in ghosts probably also believe that they have been reincarnated, etc.

However, if 160.5 percent of the vote is out of the question (assuming you're someone who believes in math), let's face it: the number of Americans with "minority beliefs" (or "crazies," as many people called them until now) is a pretty high number. If you don't fall into one of these categories yourself, don't at least a few of the people that you know have some of these minority beliefs? Or maybe they believe in things I didn't include here.

This might be the only way for Kucinich to win: round up the voters who are mocked for their beliefs. Since I'm not someone who's among those who claim to be able to see into the future, I can't guarantee that this would make him president. But if all of the "minority believers" were organized as Kucinich's campaign workers, it certainly would be fun to go to one of his rallies.

Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from "Sesame Street" to "Family Ties" to "Frasier." He has also read many books, some of which he believed.
By Lloyd Garver
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