Fred Rosenberg is fighting an uphill battle he's destined to lose, at least in the short term. He's undaunted by the fact that he has no chance of defeating well-funded mainstream politicians in the election to determine who represents Michigan's 12th District in Congress.
Joining him in this struggle are 15 other metro Detroit-area candidates seeking office under the banner of the Natural Law Party. Like Rosenberg, most of them are running not to win, but merely to gain a foothold in the marketplace of political discourse.
Winning elections, they hope, will come in due time. It is a patience that could in part stem from the practice of meditation that lies at the heart of many NLP programs.
"I see what I'm doing as a public service," says Rosenberg, a Farmington Hills computer consultant. Democratic incumbent Sander Levin and GOP challenger Leslie Touma are dominating the race (See "Fighting TV with TV" on Page 14.)
A former Democrat who grew disillusioned with the special interests he saw dominating both mainstream parties, Rosenberg found in the NLP an approach he and others believe offers real solutions to problems. Crime is a good example.
"Democrats and Republicans offer outside-in based solutions," he explains, saying the standard approach is to advocate tough-on-crime policies that include more police on the streets and more prisons with more prisoners to fill them.
The NLP, on the other hand, advocates "innovative, field-tested programs which rehabilitate from the inside out. We want to focus on the prevention aspect." Specifically, the NLP promotes use of Transcendental Meditation.
According to supporters, it is the fastest growing third party in the country.
The party's platform is decidedly progressive, though sometimes offbeat. It is strongly opposed to genetically engineered food, calling for a moratorium on the introduction of any new such foods and a clear labeling of those on the market.
Holistic medical practices and preventive health care -- including the use of meditation to relieve stress -- are key components. So are renewable energy programs and comprehensive campaign finance reform to eliminate the influence of special interests.
In regard to the latter, NLP candidates refuse contributions from political action committees, which doesn't help a fledgling party inform voters about its existence. The media aren't much help either, which is why Rosenberg says candidacies like his are important.
"Even if we're not winning a lot of elections, we are educating people and starting to make a difference," says Rosenberg, who is NLP campaign coordinator for Michigan. "The way we see it, if people make a vote for an NLP candidate, they aren't wasting that vote; they're making a statement that they want to hear new ideas. On the other hand, if they vote for a Republican or Democrat, they are saying that everything is perfectly fine and they don't want to see changes."
More information about Rosenberg's candidacy can be found online at www.lisco.com/news/rosenberg. The Web site for the national NLP is www.natural-law.org.