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COLUMN

The Other Candidates

Michael J. Ring

So far, much attention has focused on the “serious” presidential candidates -- Gore, Bush, Bradley, and McCain. These four men are widely regarded as those with a chance of capturing the White House. They are not, however, the only candidates seeking the office of President of the United States.

Hundreds of candidates, representing tens of parties, are running for president this year. Most of these candidates realize they have absolutely zero chance of actually winning, but see the campaign as an opportunity to attract attention to their pet issue, or just run for the sake of running.

Then there are the others ... delusional lunatic candidates whose ideas range from the bizarre to the hilarious. Their chronicles are documented at <http://www.politics1.com> for our enjoyment.

Lyndon LaRouche, the granddaddy of presidential fringe candidates, is making his seventh run for the White House. LaRouche, who holds several curious conspiracy obsessions, is running on a platform of returning to the Bretton Woods system of exchange rates. LaRouche was imprisoned for five years on fraud charges through the actions of what he calls a “Get LaRouche Strike Force” involving, among others, the FBI, IRS, the Department of Justice, and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Speaking of prison, the political forms of LaRouche’s fellow candidate Martin McNally list his current address as “US Penitentiary, Marion, IL 62959.”

Thomas Wells is running essentially because he says that at 2:00 a.m. on Christmas Day 1994, God spoke to him.

Reform Party candidate Ken Dixon argues “we are at the time revealed by the Bible in the book of Revelation as tribulation,” and his platform consists largely of Biblical quotes.

Candidate Michael Mannichewitz, between stints as king of England, Germany, France, Austria, and Italy, claims to be a former two-term United States President. Someone should remind him that under the provisions of the Twenty-Second Amendment, he is then ineligible to seek a third term.

Da Vid, running under the Light Party banner, thinks he has a better health care plan than either Al Gore or Bill Bradley. He supports single-payer care but emphasizes “complimentary medicine ... acupuncture, nature paths, chiropractors, hypnotherapists” and seeks to make vaccinations voluntary. Among other positions Vid seeks a “solar/hydrogen/hemp based economy.”

Independent Lamar Echols III proposes reducing school violence by having parents “take a vital part out of their children’s car” every night so that children won’t be able to stay out all night and therefore won’t fall under the influences of violence.

Fellow Independent Robert W. Gottier would create jobs by “out-lawing the importation of: A. Motor vehicles B. clothing C. household appliances.”

Jack Grimes, leader of the United Fascist Union, promises that if elected, “the doctrines and tenets of the Fascist Regime will begin to be incorporated into the American system of government.” This apparently would involve a military dictatorship reminiscent of ancient Rome. Additionally, the United Fascist Union is concerned that the United States will be eroded into a small, triangle-shaped nation. Shockingly, Grimes has spoken to a flying saucer society.

Want to redesign the flag and move the federal capital? Then A.J. Albritton is your candidate.

If you favor the “Populist-Democratic-Viking” ticket, then your Clay O. Hill is your man.

Joseph Newman, of the Truth and Action Party, is running for president while he’s not promoting his energy production system.

There are plenty of other offbeat candidates seeking election this year with platforms that are unusual, to say the least. One of the consequences of our open political system is that any person meeting a few constitutional qualifications can run for president. As always, there are more than a few people willing to take the Founding Fathers up on the offer.

I have set a humorous tone with this column, but ultimately these candidacies are to be welcomed, not scorned. While their ideas are unorthodox, these candidates fulfill the promise of democracy for the rest of us -- demonstrating the ideal that the common American can seek any political office.

And at the very least, some of these candidates are worth a good laugh.