U.S. Senate candidate Mike Beitiks is running to represent California on a platform that includes eliminating money, freezing job growth, and deploying the military in people's front yards. He’s not crazy, he says, just focused on what he sees as the only issue of Pearl Harbor-level importance: our response to climate change.
“We’re literally going to die,” he writes on his campaign website. “ISIS. Obamacare. Russia. The NSA. Wealth disparity. Immigration reform. Gun control. What do all of these hot issues for the 2016 election have in common? None of them matter because we’re all going to die.”
Beitiks is joking, of course, but he’s also deadly serious. The 31-year-old surfer, lawyer, and father of two is acting rationally irrational, he tells msnbc. His plan is to use absurdity to fight the absurdity of our political response to global warming. And his lark is starting to pay off.
With a year still to go before the Democratic primary, Beitiks is on track to easily make the ballot, forcing millions of Californians to confront his wild and crazy idea of being a politician who will “not do nothing" on climate change.
“It comes from a very honest and sad place,” Beitiks says of his campaign. “I’m just a regular dude. But I have a son who has never lived in a non-drought California and a new daughter and, like a lot of people, I haven’t seen any political reaction that I find satisfactory, or even close to satisfactory.”
This past Earth Day, Beitiks decided to fill the political void himself, albeit with his own winking style. He may be the only 2016 Senate candidate to appear shirtless on his campaign webpage. He’s definitely the only politician to rally support behind what might be described as a green police state.
He has strange ideas on money, job growth, and the military, but they're linked by what he hopes is a more common appreciation for “being alive" and avoiding "unnecessarily dead things."
To that end, he promises to take all the rich people’s money, and all the poor people’s money, and put it toward fighting climate change. In a Beitiks world, “nobody gets money anymore until no more climate change.”
He also promises no new jobs, and his reasoning is hard to oppose. “Everyone I know hates their jobs,” he writes, and it’s a little odd to promise more of something so many people end up hating. Plus, “jobs create a lot of CO2.”
The military will have a multi-purpose role if Beitiks gets his way, but he’s still trying to figure out the details. He’d like to withdraw all troops from the Middle East, for example, and redeploy them in people’s driveways. The idea is to make sure they’re not lazily using their cars for local errands.
But he’s also keen to ban private car ownership entirely, “not like socialism, per se, but like a species that wants to survive, per se.” If the no-private cars plan happens, he’d redeploy the military to countries that haven’t cut their carbon footprint.
He thinks that’d be good for the planet, but he also loves a good redemption narrative. He wants to see the U.S. transform itself from slayer of the earth to savior of the earth. “Classic kids storyline,” he explains. “The former bully becomes the protector of the nerds.”
To win his seat in Congress, Beitiks will have to beat Kamala Harris, California’s well-liked attorney general. She’s yet to articulate a stance on climate change, which gives Beitiks an advantage. But she’s also a well-qualified candidate who can excite voters on a level he’ll never match.
“Another white male in the senate? Yeah, I’ve thought about this,” Beitiks says in a Q&A posted on his website. “I mean, f--k. I get it. I get it. I’ll do my best.”
Climate change policy is still the stuff of white papers, not idealistic stump speeches. But attitudes are changing fast, and Beitiks is counting on it as his own campaign moves from two-drink one-liners to what he hopes will be a genuine political force.
He’s already won the undying ardor of those who fear “near term human extinction,” earning plaudits from the host of a radio show called "The Life Boat." “Thank you for what you’re doing,” Carolyn Baker told Beitiks on air this month. “I’m glad you’re adding the laughs, because we need that comic relief in between the freaking out.”
It’s nothing, Beitiks responded.
“When you really get down to it, isn’t the government’s job supposed to be first and foremost about making us safe and making sure we don’t die?” he says now. “To me this is all just a rational position."
Now, isn't that funny?