In 1970, Hunter S. Thompson was looking to become the new sheriff in town — the town being Aspen, Colorado. In a heated election, Thompson ran against a traditional, conservative candiate, Carrol Whitmire, on what he called the “freak power” platform, which mostly called for the legalization of marijuana and unconventional environmental protections.
As Thompson later explained in his essay “Freak Power in The Rockies,” hundreds of Haight-Ashbury refugees moved to Aspen after the ill-fated “Summer of Love” in 1967, and they became part of the general population. In the town, registered Republicans historically outweighed registered Democrats by a two-to-one margin.
But both camps were outweighed by independents, which included “a jangled mix of Left/Crazies and Birchers; cheap bigots, dope dealers, nazi ski instructors and spaced off ‘psychedelic farmers’ with no politics at all beyond self-preservation,” remembers Thompson. So, winning an election came down to registering indie voters and getting them to the polls — something that was easier said than done, it turns out.
In the short term, Hunter S. Thompson lost the “Battle of Aspen” by 300-500 votes, depending on whose accounts you read. In the long-term, he arguably won. 42 years after Thompson made the legalization of marijuana his central campaign promise, Colorado voters passed Amendment 64, legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Somewhere, the would-be gonzo politician is smiling.
Hunter S. Thompson Interviews Keith Richards, and Very Little Makes Sense
Hunter S. Thompson Calls Tech Support, Unleashes a Tirade Full of Fear and Loathing (NSFW)
Johnny Depp Reads Letters from Hunter S. Thompson (NSFW)
Once a good author, he degenerated into a cliche, incapable of continuing his earlier, sometimes brilliant prose. Call him fool.
Thompson has influenced the past few generations with his invention of Gonzo Journalism. The Good Doctor broke the mold on writing and changed the world and the voice of counter-culture. His work and antics will live on to influence even more generations to come. I paid tribute to Hunter S Thompson and his work with my portrait and article on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/02/in-memoriam-hunter-s-thompson.html
There is a new book about this campaign titled Freak Power – Hunter S. Thompson’s Campaign for Sheriff – see http://www.freakpower.com