When you think of U.S. presidential candidates in the “nutjob” category, people such as Ross Perot, with his charts and endless infomercials might come to mind. But he’s nothing when it comes to crazy.
The U.S. has enjoyed a few presidential hopefuls—some of whom are running in the upcoming election—whose level of delusion and/or eccentricity would curl your hair. Not all have or will end up on the ballot, but all have run based on highly unconventional ideas about what is good for America. From vampire wrestlers to naked cowboys, here are a few candidates who took a shot at running the free world and, thank God, Zeus, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, missed.
Known to New Yorkers and Times Square tourists as “The Naked Cowboy,” Burck has thrown his hat into the ring as an Independent candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Though he, with his trusty guitar, spends his days in Times Square dressed in patriotic tighty-whities, cowboy boots, and hat, he is a self-proclaimed “conservative nationalist” and would like to be “the wealthiest person who ever lived.” Wouldn’t we all? Maybe not, if it means wearing star-spangled briefs in public.
Distinguished Army veteran and ex-postal worker, Jimmy McMillan is best known for his run for New York mayor, governor, and senator representing his own The Rent Is Too Damn High Party. McMillan’s 2012 presidential platform is, unsurprisingly, based on the outrageous rents charged in New York City and other metropolitan areas. Fortunately for us all (or maybe unfortunately), his “The Rent Is Too Damn High Party” theme rap is available on iTunes. We wonder if he might find rents more to his liking in, say, Wyoming.
Jonathan “The Impaler” Sharkey
Presidential hopeful in 2004 and 2008, self-described “sanguinary vampyre,” Jonathan Sharkey, founded the Vampires, Witches, and Pagans Party, which is an actual political party recognized by the Federal Election Commission. If Sharkey’s name doesn’t ring a bell, he boxes and wrestles professionally under the name Rocky “Hurricane” Flash, all of which seems like it should be in quotation marks. His platform was unclear, other than advocating for the rights of occult lovers, which is, we’re guessing, a fairly small percentage of Americans.
Grimes ran for President every election year from 1996 to 2008 on the United Fascist Union ticket. Don’t call him a Nazi though—he’s opposed to that version of fascism. Instead, his platform includes abolishing Christianity in lieu of ancient Roman paganism mashed up with Italian-style fascism. Also he apparently finds himself presidential-looking in a gladiator helmet.
In 2008, a record year for nuts running for President, performance artist Frank Moore ran on a fairly radical platform of near-communism for the Just Makes Sense Party. Polish political ‘zine Aktivist had this to say about Moore: “Are you a US citizen? Love party and weed? Vote for Frank Moore!” Given that his running mate, Dr. Susan Block reportedly enjoys “erotic theater,” as well, we’ve formed a pretty clear picture of what their victory party might have looked like. His campaign poster makes us wonder if universal dental care is part of his platform, too.
Founder of The Anxiety Center, which works to debunk “deliberately false, media-driven scare campaigns” about environmental degradation and global warming, Alan Caruba ran in 2000 as a write-in candidate and member of the Boring Party. A far-right conservative, Caruba recently shared on his blog that Michele Bachmann is a “babe,” and and thinks it is plausible that President Obama is some sort of “sleeper agent” with no discernible history as a human being. He goes on to mildly opine that “Islam…has always had the goal of killing or enslaving every Jew on planet Earth,” and that the United Nations is the “epicenter of anti-semitism” and “has no right to exist.” Perhaps the “Paranoid Conspiracy Theorist Black Helicopter Party” would be a more descriptive name for his ideas.
It isn’t just in modern elections that oddball candidates have tried to capture the presidency, though we clearly have more weirdos these days. But, in 1872 Victoria Woodhull was nominated by the Equal Rights Party, and was considered by some historians to be the first woman candidate for President. The Chicago Tribune described the Equal Rights Party as “a curious congregation of long-haired people calling themselves ‘Reformers’ and representing at least a score of peculiar social theories.” Victoria would just be another hippie by today’s standards, but in 1872 rules about proper behavior were very stringent.
As a clairvoyant and proponent of free love, legalized prostitution, and eugenics, Victoria was about as nutty as they came. Alas, by Election Day, Victoria was in jail for using the U.S. mail to circulate “questionable literature” and did not get elected. We wonder just how different America would be today if she had.