Ah, Harley Brown in Idaho’s Governor debate — such a joke, right? But wait, maybe political correctness is the proverbial turd in the punch bowl

This Idaho gubernatorial debate went viral yesterday, so you’ve probably seen it at much bigger sites than this one (here, here, here and here). The real race is between the current Governor, C.L. “Butch” Otter (who has been Governor of Idaho for seemingly two decades), and this guy Russ Fulcher, a current State Senator. The show was stolen — hence the viralness — by Harley Brown, a former Boise cab driver turned President of a biker gang who’s a fringe candidate in the election. Most of the viralness associated with this is because Brown is so outlandish — i.e. he wears full biker garb to a gubernatorial debate, he says out loud that “political correctness sucks,” and he refers to concepts like “the proverbial turd in a punch bowl.” Right, right. None of that has any real place in the professionalism of modern politics, of course. Eye roll.

But check this out — his views on gay marriage:

That’s fairly progressive for a Republican, no? “(Gays) are as American as a Medal of Honor winner. They love each other more than I love my motorcycle.”

Alright, so I get it with all the fringe clothing and the low-level expletives and whatnot. He’s a kook! But this is also a country that once elected Jesse Ventura as a Governor, so we’ve down roads that are in some ways more eerie. Harley Brown’s views aren’t actually that awful. Political correctness is good on face, but in terms of wide-level execution in America, it has flaws (see this paper from Cal-Berkeley). Again, the idea is great. The flawed part is how we execute it and what we think it really means: it should be another term for “understanding,” not necessarily a tool for leverage/advantage. In that way, it does suck. And gay Americans do have tremendous amounts of love for one another and deserve the chance to have that legally recognized. In these veins, Harley Brown isn’t so bad. Butch Otter, who’s been running Idaho for close to a decade, is trying to get an appeal on a pro-same-sex-marriage decision.

Now, Brown did also say that “evil spirits are behind the (federal government),” so that’s something to maybe consider as a little bit crazy. But as he walked off, he framed the context of the Republican gubernatorial primary for everyone:

“Folks, you have a choice: A cowboy, a curmudgeon, a biker or a normal guy. Take your pick,” Brown told the Idaho Public Television audience, referring to Otter, Bayes, himself and Fulcher respectively.

Indeed. And while a bit crazy, to be sure — choosing the biker might lead you to a fairly progressive, forward-thinking Republican in some ways. 

Here’s the full debate, FYI:

Ted Bauer