We All Vote a Little Crazy Sometimes

Comedian Beppe Grillo, the head of Italy’s populist Five Star Movement, is seen on a screen as he addresses supporters during an electoral rally on February 12, 2013 in Bergamo, northern Italy.

Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images

Last night I gawked at the elections in Italy, in which a “hah, that would be weird” nightmare for investors came true. The Five Star Movement, a bloc founded by a comedian/economist who can’t actually serve in parliament because of a manslaughter conviction,* won 25 percent of the available seats. Anti-establishment voters denied a majority to the left, opting for the “screw everybody” option. I talked to an American who tried this out, but wasn’t as successful, only because our system doesn’t allow a third party into power at all unless it wins.

“I take what happened in Italy as a good sign,” says Kinky Friedman, the country singer/novelist/amateur politician who ran for governor of Texas in 2006. “I think if Jesus were to run here in Texas as an independent, he wouldn’t do as well as they did.”

Friedman tells me he’s looking at a 2014 run for governor, seeking the Democratic nomination, blowing up the party from inside. (He was talking to possible strategists before he talked to me.) But my larger point: Enough already with the hope that a centrist party can be seeded by hedge funds and magically moderate our politics. Change comes from the fringe and the rejectionists, as it should.

Correction, Feb. 26, 2013: This post originally misstated “manslaughter conviction” as “manslaughter convention.”