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COLUMN

On John Hagelin, and Other Loonies

Matthew L. McGann

What do you know about the Natural Law Party? The answer to that question probably depends on what you know about Transcendental Meditation (TM).

In 1996, the candidate of the perhaps least-known of the major third parties was John Hagelin. Hagelin finished 7th in that election, trailing the Democrat (Bill Clinton), the Republican (Bob Dole), the Reform (Ross Perot), the Green (Ralph Nader), the Libertarian (Harry Browne), and the Constitution (Howard Phillips) Party candidates. He amassed more than 113,000 votes. In Massachusetts, he ran fifth, ahead of Nader and Phillips.

John Hagelin is a professor at the Maharishi University of Management, a school that advocates “consciousness-based education” and TM. He believes that TM and the Grand Unified Theory have an “exact correlation.”

I interviewed candidate Hagelin in 1996. In that discussion, he touched on a number of the issues of the day... and somehow managed to work TM into just about every response.

How can health care be improved? Americans should practice preventative medicine, like doing TM, and then they wouldn’t get sick anymore. What is your view on abortion? If everyone did TM, we would be more moral people, at peace with ourselves, and hence wouldn’t have as many unwanted pregnancies, leading to fewer abortions. How about NAFTA? If the Mexicans practiced TM, the peso devaluation mess wouldn’t have occurred. And if the Canadians practiced TM, then the beer trade deficit would shrink.

The “work TM into your response” game is fun for the whole family. Try it tonight over dinner.

Let me say this about candidate Hagelin, after having talked with him for half an hour: he is crazy. He is a nut. A loon. Loco. Cuckoo. Has a few screws loose. The lights are on, but nobody’s home. Not playing with a full deck. A few Secretaries short of a Cabinet.

Considering the above facts, Hagelin realized he was in the wrong political party. His true place in the world was in the party with all the other loons -- the Reform Party. With crazy Ross Perot out of the running, and the announcement that fellow loon Pat Buchanan would be seeking the endorsement of the Reform Party, Hagelin threw his hat in the ring for the title of King Loon. The results were mixed: Buchanan received the Reform Party’s more than $12 million in Federal funds, but Hagelin will appear on the ballot in many states (including New York) as the true Loon.

Many loons will appear on your presidential ballot on Tuesday, the two Reform candidates included. If you decide to vote for a loon, be sure you know what you’re doing.