Americans like two things: underdogs and winners. This is not a contradiction. You can have a strong case for winning and still pass yourself off as the underdog if you have good PR or just a slightly different background than people have gotten accustomed to. And if you genuinely are an underdog, well you have to build and sustain a narrative for your victory (against all odds, of course) or people will drop you in an instant which is one reason why you get all those embarrassing blog posts and articles making really wild hypotheticals for how X can still win or how X dissolved the corporation that had replaced the US government in the 19th century and so will be returned to power after blah blah blah. 

This obsession with winning elections, which has become an “at all cost” proposition, has turned into a huge problem for our country and frankly, it’s loser talk. Because it’s mutated from a desire for sweet, sweet victory into a fear of losing. America, you cannot fear to lose. Losing over and over and over again is what built this great nation because when you lose you either fade away or you come back stronger than ever. Winning is an iterative process and it starts by losing.That’s why Step One of the Dark Horse campaign is Lose. 

Winning is what the politicians obsess over, it’s the only thing that they think matters. And yes, elections matter, our government has a real and meaningful impact on our lives for good or ill and who leads that government will dictate performance to a degree. But government isn’t where the power is, nor is it money or fame. The true locus of power is in our human networks. There are so many ways to influence human networks, government, money, and fame being just a few. However, America is somewhat unique among nations in being defined by our system of government, above all else we are defined by democracy. Other nations merely adopted democracy whereas we were born into it. 

As such, in the United States, the quickest and most effective path for rewiring human networks is through the campaign. Whereas politicians campaign to win office, the Dark Horse seeks office so as to campaign. Meaningless to some, for sure. All politicians must campaign (unless they manage to rig elections in their favor as many do via gerrymandering) and some of those campaigns ultimately manifest in a network busting mass movement. Nevertheless, modern campaigns have optimized themselves over centuries for the exclusive purpose of winning elections (or being a protest candidate or an issues candidate or other such weak willed nonsense). 

The Dark Horse Campaign optimizes along other lines. Our opponents are fundamentally incapable of adapting to us. They’ve reached a local maximum and one step in any direction is death valley. The only move now is to leap. Our strategy is an openbook. Knowing it cannot prevent it. Understanding it only drives us further.

The guiding light of the Dark Horse campaign is to save the world, more or less. While we have general faith in humanity’s perseverance, the trends haven’t been as good as we’d like lately. No one likes to see democracy in retreat, a stalling out of global growth, or widespread suffering of any kind. A better world is inevitable, until it’s not, we just want to do our part. So how does a quixotic campaign for governor of the oft forgotten state of Ohio save the world? Well, it’s complicated, but the answer ultimately comes round to “by being really, really weird” (We know, we’re also filled with hope and pride for devoting our time and efforts to this perfectly respectable campaign).

Most of the world’s problems actually have foreseeable technological fixes and for those it is our goal to transform Ohio into a hub of innovation that will generate solutions to climate change, death, disease, hunger, malnutrition, homelessness, scarcity, limited access to services, communication, transportation, education, etc. And yes, Ohio is very well situated to tackle all these sectors (and profit modestly from them, out of the kindness of our market oriented hearts). The destination is clear enough, it’s just finding the right paths. The vast majority of this will be covered in the policy section of Ohio: Resurrection. 

But turning Ohio into an innovation hub and saving the world is about way more than policy. It’s about a cultural shift, a perspective shift, a reality shift (lot of talk of the multiverse in entertainment media these days, predicative programming anyone?). And government policy doesn’t change our perspective all that much. At best we can hope for a little leading by example. Perspective is what the Dark Horse Campaign is here to provide. 

Now, there are many perspectives that would be greatly beneficial to society as a whole if more people were to take them. It would certainly help for people to take the historical perspective and know that all of this has basically happened before and will happen again and that the present is much, much better than any given point in the past. It would be constructive for people to take the long run perspective and consider the consequences of our actions not just for ourselves (hard to do already) but for our children, grandchildren, and generations a thousand years hence and to recognize that ours is but a small part to play that will be evened out and long forgotten in short order. And it would be an absolute delight if people were to take an economic perspective and recognize that everything comes with an opportunity cost, many activities come with externalities, and that this is all about deciding how to distribute resources. But the perspective the Dark Horse Campaign wants you to take is a little more… fundamental. It’s time to take another look at reality. 

Truth is truth, thoroughly unassailable, undeniable, objective, singular. But reality, that’s subjective, a collective endeavor of mutual compromise, mutual understanding. Culture, social structure, symbolic language, these are things that developed not from some fundamental physical principles (they certainly had their impact) but from a long and iterative process of human interaction, evolution, serendipity. This is an amazing, wonderful, extraordinary process worthy of extensive study and understanding. But we’re not here to marvel at the majesty of human creation, we’re not middle schoolers taking our first stab at grand philosophizing. It is just worth noting before we proceed that the greatest human accomplishments, those things that enable our modern civilization (money, scientific study, memes) are cultural constructs that exist only by the consciousness of billions of people. Ceci n’est pas.

That’s the perspective the Dark Horse Campaign will inject into Ohio. A heightened yet partial awareness that we are the imperfect masters of our fate. We believe that a consciousness of our own role in forming reality will go a long way in warping that reality. Spread widely enough, fracturing that reality. 

History appears to lock us into a path that allows for limited variation, that great river of time blasting away the ripples and disturbances of the individual, of the moment. Inevitability. But if we truly have any free will at all (unlikely, I think), then the future is never completely certain. By causing the increasingly unlikely and absurd to occur, we will orchestrate a total break from our current undesirable path, a path of sectarianism, sophism, and solicitude.  Internally, the campaign refers to this as the ‘Pataphysical Singularity. 

What are the rules here? Well, there are no rules here but there are definitely probably some rules here. The impossible is right out, we’re not going to rewrite the physics books with good vibes (I’m prepared, as governor, to overfund a few studies on the subject). But the implausible, improbable, absolutely illogical, that’s our bread and butter. The natural disdain of Americans in general and Ohioans in particular for all things sensible actually makes the ridiculous more likely when given the right narrative push. Keeping in mind, the goal is a better world, by unpredictable means.  

There is much that is fully within our power to make happen. There are levers built into the existing structures of society, culture, government or what have you, that make this easier to achieve for individuals or small groups of people than you might expect. I personally make it a bit of a specialty of locating and exploiting these… let’s call them inconsistencies. Thus far with limited effect. Yet I persist.  

One of those levers, as discussed, is the political campaign. Winning an election, as it currently stands, takes lots of money and massive coordination and submission to one of two major political party apparatuses (apparati?) which really locks you into the predictable. But really nothing prevents you from running for office. Burdensome signature requirements and filings fees can be ignored, “qualifying for the ballot” is overrated anyway, it shouldn’t hold you back. 

The Dark Horse campaign for governor (a small part of the larger Dark Horse Campaign) is something we’ve made happen by just deciding to. Already it is quickly becoming an unquestioned reality spreading and infecting the minds of Ohioans and we cannot stress enough how little has been put into it. There are diminishing returns but anything is possible when you locate the right levers. Would call it culture jamming if that weren’t associated with hippie-dippie, counterculture fecklessness. 

Maybe one day it’ll be possible to explain this more concisely, more clearly with shared points of reference for common understanding and without giving away too much of what’s to come. Until then, the takeaway is that there is a method to the madness. This is not performance art, this is not bad comedy, this is not an earnest and cringe attempt at what might pass for “serious politics” among the half-asleep politics watchers of Ohio (no, please tell me all about the two washout mayors, the fake cowboy, the millionaire somehow losing to the fake cowboy, the independent who is running a Republican campaign, the guy I forgot about until after I wrote this great zingers, and the institutionally corrupt incumbent who might not even get renominated); this is the Dark Horse Campaign, enjoy it while it lasts.