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What's Happening

Minnesota Star-Tribune
October 1, 2000



Andrew Donohue / Star Tribune

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A quantum physicist, Natural Law Party presidential candidate John Hagelin takes a scientist's approach to government. But his solutions aren't filled with complex theories or equations, they're just based on common sense, he says.

"The political reality is 90 percent of the time the candidates that spend the most win. That means those who are leading our country are simply the most adept at raising special-interest money -- that's no foundation for government," Hagelin said. "I would like to instead base our government on what actually works, not what's politically expedient or bought and paid for by special-interest groups."

What works, he said, is a scientific, empirical, practical, common-sense approach.

Hagelin labels his jump from a Harvard-trained physicist to presidential hopeful a "quantum leap." But it is actually a slow progression from a young man interested in the laws governing the universe to a physicist intrigued by brain development and, finally, to an educator investigating how science can solve social problems and aid public policy.

The 46-year-old Hagelin, soft-spoken and intimidatingly intelligent, is perhaps best known to the public for his political donnybrook this summer with Pat Buchanan over the Reform Party's nomination and the $12.5 million war chest that came with it.

Hagelin attended Dartmouth College and Harvard University, and is renowned for his work in the "Grand Unified Field Theory," which holds that there is one unifying force that binds the universe. Understanding how the application of this "natural law" can improve society is a cornerstone of Hagelin's politics.

Hagelin, a founder of the Natural Law Party and its presidential nominee in three elections, used gravity to explain natural law.

"If you drop a pen, it falls down every time. There are similar principles governing health, governing our complex ecosystem, even governing economies and societies as well," he said, "so my government would simply put the most comprehensive understanding of how things work, of natural law, to work in government." ...

To get his message out, Hagelin brought in the man who orchestrated Gov. Jesse Ventura's shocker election, Doug Friedline of Brooklyn Park.

Friedline, who joined as campaign manager at the end of August, said they must tap groups like college students and those disenfranchised with the political process -- as Ventura did -- to be successful.

But Hagelin doesn't carry with him the governor's celebrity or gusto, so he must rely on the issues. Hagelin supports gun and abortion rights and free trade, but not when human rights and environmental issues are at stake. But at the top of his list is campaign finance reform because, he says, "without it, none of these other things will ever pass. It's not rocket science."