My fellow Americans, please welcome President I. M. Lunatic
Every four years, the crazy season, also known as the Presidential election, comes around. Back in the good old days, the election season didn’t get serious until the first primaries in the January before the election. As with most things in America, bigger is always better so campaign cycles have become longer and longer over the last couple decades. Though the next election isn’t for the better part of a year, in the last six months we’ve been subjected to every type of propaganda, rhetoric, and just plain BS that the candidates can throw against each other.
The Presidential candidates for 2016 look like a bunch of Barnum and Bailey Clown College drop-outs. Whoever can convince the reality deprived Fox audience of the biggest lies will probably become the Republican choice for President. On the Democratic side, most of the tall tales come in the form of who the candidates claim they are not beholden to.
With the exceptional amount of vitriol, personal attacks, and just plain lies being tossed by all the candidates, we tend to scratch our heads and ask why a country as great as America can only come up with the idiots that are currently in the race. We mourn for the days when the candidates seemed normal, informed, and strong. We long for the time when we knew whomever we elected would be the best qualified person to take the reins of the most powerful nation on Earth. Political parties today appear to be headed up by complete buffoons.
Sometimes it’s really hard to tell the difference between mainstream and fringe candidates and this year is no exception. But are the 2016 fringe candidates any more off the wall than those of the past? I think not. Let’s take a look at a few previous contenders:
Victoria Woodhull – In 1872, Woodhull became the presidential candidate for the Equal Rights Party. She ran a Wall Street brokerage house, published a newspaper, and was a suffragette whose platform promoted women’s rights and pro-labor issues. She also supported social reforms concerning sex education, vegetarianism, legalized prostitution, and described herself as a “free love advocate.” Her running mate was the famous abolitionist Frederick Douglas. Though she would have been right at home with the hippie movement 100 years later, she was way ahead of her time and her vote totals weren’t even enough to be registered when the election took place.
A former advertising professional, Homer Aubrey Tomlinson, ran in every presidential election from 1952 until 1968. Tomlinson started the Theocratic Party and ran on a platform based on replacing taxation with tithing and creating a new cabinet post: the Secretary of Righteousness. After losing five straight elections, Tomlinson declared himself King of the World and held coronation ceremonies in over 100 countries, appearing on stage with a gold-plated crown, a folding chair, and an inflatable globe.
Gabriel Green was a UFOlogist who ran for president twice, in 1960 and 1972. Green declared he was qualified to run the country because of his lengthy discussions with extraterrestrials from Venus, Mars, Alpha Centauri, and the Pleiades. His platform consisted of a laundry list of social and economic changes that were suggested to him by Space People. After his second defeat in 1972, Green retired and spent the rest of his life relaying messages from Space People to Earth People.
The 1972 candidate for the American Independent Party was John G. Schmitz. Schmitz had a major problem with Richard Nixon, the incumbent Republican president. Many people thought Nixon was too conservative. Schmitz thought Nixon too liberal and was actually booted out of the ultra-conservative John Birch Society for his level of extremism. One of his more infamous statements concerned Nixon’s historic trip to China: “I have no objection to President Nixon going to China. I just object to him coming back.” Schmitz also stated that the US could benefit from a military coup. “Not a bad military coup, mind you. But a good one, like Pinochet in Chile.” Schmitz’s daughter, Mary Kay Letourneau, became newsworthy several decades later as the teacher who was convicted and imprisoned for the rape of a thirteen-year old student. After she was released from prison and the student graduated from high school, they married and had two children.
In 1992, a drag performer, known as Joan Jett Blakk ran for both Mayor of Chicago and President of the United States. Born in Detroit as Terence Smith, Blakk ran on the Queer Nation Party ticket with her slogan being “Lick Bush in ’92.” She ran again in 1996 using “Lick Slick Willie in ‘96” as her rallying cry.
Over the years, we’ve seen celebrities decide they could run for President. Performers like Fred Thompson, Fred Grandy, and Al Franken have demonstrated that entertainers can end up in Washington. Ronald Reagan showed that even a Grade B actor can ascend to the highest office in the country. Actors and comedians becoming politicians, just like politicians becoming actors and comedians, is nothing new.
Pat Paulsen, of Smothers Brothers fame, ran for president eight times between 1968 and 1996. He referred to himself as “a common, ordinary simple savior of America’s destiny.” Being rather pragmatic about the whole process though, he was quoted at a fund raising dinner saying, “I expect a lot of them won’t even vote for me. (But) the important thing is I got their money.”
A guitar player with the bands the James Gang and the Eagles, Joe Walsh ran for president in 1980. At the time, he was only 33, even though the minimum age for president was 35. That little detail did not deter Walsh in the least. His campaign promises included replacing the “Star Spangled Banner” with his song, “Life’s Been Good” and offered free gas for everyone. He mounted a second campaign in 1992 with the slogan “We Want Our Money Back.”
Rosanne Barr filed paperwork to run in the 2012 election under the banner of the Green Tea Party. Barr promised to emphasize meditation and mental health issues as her primary causes. She also demanded Wall Street bankers be sent to education camps or be executed by beheading.
In 2012, Jonathon Albert Sharkey ran for President. Nicknamed “The Impaler,” Sharkey is a professional wrestler who also claims he’s a vampire. His platform included punishing criminals with torture and impalement. He described George H.W. Bush as a communist and once recorded an album of Elvis Presley music. He plans to run again in 2020.
And here we are once again, staring at a roster of registered mainstream and fringe candidates for 2016 that makes us ache for sanity.
Among the stranger are:
Vermin Love Supreme is a performance artist from New Hampshire. Supreme’s platform vows to fight “moral and oral decay” in the US by providing a pony to every American and federally mandating teeth brushing. A self-described “friendly Fascist,” in 2012, he demanded Ron Paul challenge President Obama to a “panty-wrestling” match to decide the election. When Supreme showed up to register for the 2016 New Hampshire primary, he was carrying two long guns, two pistols, a giant toothbrush and a stuffed pony. One of the hand guns was attached to the long rubber boot he consistently wears as a hat. He also wants to fast track Federal funding for time travel research.
HRM Caesar St. Augustine de Buonaparte calls himself the Ruler of the United States of Turtle Islands. He’s the candidate of the Absolute Dictator’s Party and seems to have no discernible platform.
Deez Nuts, aka Brady Olsen, is a 15-year old from Iowa who is tired of the two party system and has made his displeasure widely known. He is tracking in the polls with an almost 10% rating in three states and has been contacted by people in 23 states offering support.
And finally there’s the candidate registered as Sydney’s Voluptuous Buttocks whose campaign platform, called the “Buttology Perspective” says, “Vote for Sydney’s Buttocks. After all, every politician is an asshole, so what’s the difference.”