Back in 1940, Gracie Allen, wife and comedy partner of George Burns, ran for president under what she called the Surprise Party. It started as a joke announcement on their radio show, but the publicity stunt gained momentum when Allen toured the country and gave speeches about her party’s platform, which included being proud of the national debt because “it’s the biggest in the world!” She withdrew her name from consideration after a surprisingly successful candidacy (one town actually wanted to elect her as mayor if she didn’t win), but thousands of people still wrote her name on the ballot in the real election.
The American Vegetarian Party
John Maxwell, an eighty-five-year-old vegetarian restaurant owner, and Symon Gould, an editor for the publication American Vegetarian, ran for president and vice president, respectively, in 1948, as members of the Vegetarian Party, which was formed in 1947. Not surprisingly, its platform was the promotion of vegetarian ethics. For example, Maxwell and Gould wanted to limit the amount of time farmers could spend raising animals for slaughter. They didn’t think animals should be used for food or fashion. The party pushed presidential candidates in the next four elections, but when Gould, one of the founders and the man chosen for the 1964 ticket, died in 1963, the American Vegetarian Party fizzled as well.
Guns and Dope Party
Converts to the Guns and Dope Party believe that everyone who wants guns and drugs should have them, and everybody who doesn’t want them shouldn’t have them. “Like what you like, enjoy what you enjoy, and don’t take crap from anybody” is their motto. They also believe that at least 33 percent of Congressional seats should belong to ostriches, and that ostriches in general should have just as many rights as humans.
Vampyres Witches Pagans Party
Jonathon “The Impaler” Sharkey started this group in 2005 and actually got it on the U.S. Federal Election Committee’s official list. He ran for governor of Minnesota in 2006 and for president of the United States in 2008, both times speaking very openly about issues such as his past as a soldier and professional wrestler, whether he drinks blood (he does), and his plan to publicly impale criminals rather than imprison them. His proclaimed mission was to make the world more hospitable to witches, pagans, and the like. That goal may have been put on hold when he was jailed in 2009 for harassing and threatening an ex-girlfriend, though.
The Rent Is Too Damn High Party
Based in New York City, this organization is made up mostly of one man, Jimmy McMillan, who believes that rent is way too high. “There’s nothing else to talk about,” he raps in his campaign song. McMillan ran for mayor in 2005 and 2009, but he’s getting far more press for his 2010 gubernatorial bid, thanks to a memorable speech at the October 18 election debate. “Listen … someone’s child’s stomach just growled. Did you hear it? You gotta listen like me,” he declared. His party also has a rather open view about marriage: “The Rent Is too Damn High Party feels if you want to marry a shoe, I’ll marry you.”
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