In 1970, the greatest writer on the planet, Hunter S. Thompson, ran for sheriff of Pitkin County, Colorado. The campaign, prefaced by his amazing article "Freak Power in the Rockies," seemed outlandish, but the premise was very serious. Aspen had changed and the counterculture was unrepresented in local government. As the Doctor wrote:
Aspen is full of freaks, heads, fun-hogs and weird night-people of every description…but most of them would prefer jail or the bastinado to the horror of actually registering to vote. Unlike the main bulk of burghers and businessmen, the dropout has to make an effort to use his long-dormant vote. There is not much to it, no risk and no more than ten minutes of small talk and time – but to the average dropout the idea of registering to vote is a very heavy thing. The psychic implications, “copping back into the system,” etc., are fierce…
And we learned, in Aspen, that there is no point even trying to convince people to take that step unless you can give them a very good reason. Like a very unusual candidate…or a fireball pitch of some kind.
"Freak Power" outlines a campaign of outlandish and legally questionable promises that exaggerated, yet illustrated, the very real problems. Traffic congestion was addressed by a pledge to tear up and sod the streets. Abuse of the land by developers was greeted by a proposal to rename Aspen "Fat City" and tearing down all buildings that blocked views of the mountains. Thompson only moderated his views by pledging not to use drugs while on duty. The platform was combined with a very basic, practical, we outnumber them get out the vote program. Thompson came dangerously close to winning.
Iowa City's "freaks" are the students, perennially left out of local government. As we saw in the 21 bar vote in 2007, a We Outnumber Them strategy can work in Iowa City politics as well, as long as there's a compelling motivation to vote. So we know the strategy can work. All we need is the Thompsonian "fireball pitch," which I hereby propose.
Officers will also occupy their time by posting signs at all entrances to University Heights reading WARNING: SPEED TRAP.