Enter the Xuna Xone

You might not know Juan Xuna from Xanadu, but he should be your next congressman

It's official. Broward and Palm Beach counties are 100 percent in support of making war in Iraq.

It seems we're all itching for a bloodbath -- or at least for bloody Baaths -- in Baghdad. We're good and snookered by the bait (Osama) and switch (Saddam), and have abandoned any idea of rigorously containing the Iraqi dictator. We're champing at the bit to show the Arab world who's boss, to kill more people in the name of September 11's dead, to introduce more hate and violence into this suddenly oh-so-messed-up world.

At least, that's all our congressmen, the sum total of our counties' voice, are saying on Capitol Hill. All five of them support the war. That the two Republicans in office, Fort Lauderdale's Clay Shaw Jr. and West Palm Beach's Mark Foley, support the Bush administration isn't surprising. Those two receive barrels of cash from oil and energy interests, and neither would have the guts to stand up to Bush if he wanted to. Foley has even been aping the president's favorite phrase, "We won't get fooled again."

Congressional candidate Juan Xuna is definitely not the same  as the old boss
Congressional candidate Juan Xuna is definitely not the same as the old boss

(Note to country: It might be a clue that America is royally screwed up when right-wing demagogues start stealing lines from circa-1970s Who songs. Let's hope not too many American soldiers and Iraqi civilians die before they get old because of it.)

The Democrats' support of the president, though, really bothers me. As I wrote last week, two of our liberal stalwarts, Robert Wexler and Peter Deutsch, support a military strike (see "Hawking for Israel," September 26). The other donkey, Alcee Hastings of Miramar, talks an opposition game but ultimately stands in the war camp. He introduced a joint resolution last week to authorize Bush to go to war. Under the Hastings plan, which hasn't been reported in the local media, the president would have to jump through a few hoops at the United Nations, but he'd get what he wants: The OK to overrun Baghdad.

So we're 0-for-5. But you might at least expect Shaw's Democratic challenger, Carol Roberts, to give peace a chance, right? Uh-uh. The Palm Beach County commissioner has been as silent about Iraq as a stealth bomber over the no-fly zone.

Instead of taking a stand on the most important issue of our time, Roberts has been prattling on about prescription drugs (which, incidentally, can come in handy if you have to listen to her talk). Last week, her campaign sent me a tortured little written statement on the war: "I want to see evidence that containment of Saddam is not working," she wrote. "And I want to see evidence that there is an immediate threat to the United States."

Good start. But read on: "Colin Powell is a man of war, and he understands you don't go to war lightly. If men of war like Powell said it was the thing to do, I'd be there.... Make no mistake about it: I would vote to take the country into war in order to protect the U.S., our people, and our interests."

So Roberts is basically a hawk, and, much worse, she's a hawk who goes around using the phrase "make no mistake about it." These Bush mimics are making me queasy. I know the president is dashing and eloquent and all, but can't they come up with their own lines? Is there no one out there with an original thought? Will someone try to quell this grave and gathering danger (oops, now I'm doing it), this illegitimate despot, this interloping cur called George W. Bush?

Xuna to the rescue.

Juan Xuna (pronounced "Zoona") is running against Shaw and Roberts as an independent. Xuna, who is 53 years old, speaks with a heavy accent from his native Spain, has no political experience, and campaigns out of his family's two-bedroom condo in Hillsboro Beach. He's well-educated and has well-reasoned stances on the issues. Xuna calls himself a Social Democrat and basically wants to bring the best qualities of Europe -- including a national health care system and more vacation time -- to the United States. He panders to no one and serves as a tool for no special interests, which is one reason he stands a snowball's chance in Boynton Beach of winning.

But the peace vote has already lost, making it the ideal time for a protest ballot. So enter with me, if you dare, the Xuna Xone, where political decency lives and common sense and logic doom campaigns to obscurity.

Xuna, who has lived in the United States and Puerto Rico for the past 31 years, was driven to enter politics by two calamitous falls -- of the stock market and of the World Trade Center. He quit his job as a software executive in January to run for office and spent 75 days in parking lots and beaches gathering the 2165 signatures he needed to qualify as a candidate. You might have seen him out there this past spring; he was the guy holding a clipboard who looked a little like basketball analyst Dick Vitale, with a shiny bald head ringed by a dark halo of hair.

He knew he had little chance to win, but he also believed he had important ideas (which are detailed on his Website, www.gr8st8.com). September 11, as he sees it, made it clear that we need to foster better relations in the Middle East, primarily by ending what he calls "total support" of Israel. He believes that, if there is ever to be peace in the region, Israel must become a true democracy -- rather than a theocratic state.

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