FREEDOMMar 11, 2019Rob Loggia
Most modern presidential campaigns have one thing in common, the enormous travel bills associated with jetting across the country to key states and conventions. To be a contender, the conventional logic suggests that a candidate must shake as many hands as possible, kissing babies and convincing potential voters that they genuinely care about them. On Saturday, March 11, 2018, John McAfee took to Times Square in New York and performed his usual trick: giving conventional ideas the one-finger salute.
Of course, John McAfee wasn’t actually there in the flesh. He is running his 2020 campaign for presiden from overseas, preferring the inconvenience and unfamiliarity of life in exile to the silence-inducing isolation of a domestic jail cell. At issue is the forcible and violent collection of income taxes in the United States, and McAfee’s refusal to cooperate. When the federal government convened a grand jury, styled after the infamous Court of the Star Chamber and the Spanish Inquisition, McAfee moved his person out of harm’s way so that his voice would continue to reach the American people and the world.
While discretion may be the better part of valor, the question of how to conduct a campaign for president remained. 50 years ago, even 10 years ago, this would have been exceeding difficult, if not impossible, to do. Fortunately, that is not the case any longer. Technology now allows us to make human connections digitally, and over vast distances. And who better to demonstrate the raw power of this advantage than John McAfee, the inventor of computer anti-virus protection.
To pull this off, the McAfee campaign is using a version of the “Human Uber” concept, now offered in Asia as a way for people to expand their reach without traveling. Instead of campaigning in person, McAfee will be sending out an army of surrogate clones, known as Road Warriors. These individuals will don a mask of McAfee’s face, while McAfee himself speaks and interacts with people over a video link. It is an idea that, if it works, could change the nature of political campaigns across the world.
After Saturday, this is no longer theory. Using the hosts of the internet podcast “The Larry and Joe Show” as surrogates, McAfee invaded Times Square and interacted with people on the street while the entire event was broadcast live. McAfee took questions, told stories and had genuine one-on-one human interactions with anyone that walked up. And the fact that he wasn’t standing there in the flesh did not make the experience any less exciting for those who participated.
Is it necessary that we smell the stink of an individual’s sweat in order to benefit from and understand their words and their wisdom? Parties with a vested interest keep assuring us that there is no substitute for meeting a person in meatspace, but is this really true for most interactions? Society has long acknowledged that it is not necessary for things like hearing the news, an activity once delivered in person by the town crier.
Perhaps the truth is somewhere in between. There may be no substitute for one-on-one interaction, but aside from a visceral satisfaction, there appears to be no requirement for this to happen in the flesh. Much of the business world has already acknowledged this, especially in Asia. Similarly, there is nothing a potential voter could not ask a candidate over a video link, and all indications are that the opportunity imparts a similar thrill.
The McAfee campaign has promised to pursue this experiment and conduct surrogate appearances worldwide throughout the course of the campaign. The results may surprise some people, and success could change how we handle elections forever. For a candidate that can do this successfully would have a tremendous financial advantage over traditional candidates. Enjoying unlimited reach while not having to foot the bill for travel could free up precious campaign dollars for other activities and promotions. And there may soon come a time where candidates cannot afford not to take advantage of technology in this way.
McAfee plans to return to Times Square several times during the campaign show, courtesy of the “Larry and Joe Show” and accompanied by a live broadcast. Those who are curious can catch a glimpse of history in the making this Saturday, March 17, in the afternoon. Scheduling information can be found here and here.
For those with a bigger appetite, who are not content to observe history but would rather participate in making it, registration for the Road Warrior program is active and ongoing. Those interested can sign up here and receive a mask and instructions to help John McAfee reach the world with his message.