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Every day seems to bring news of another Democrat entering the seemingly standing-room-only primary for the 2020 nomination.
But for every top-tier Democratic candidate, and for every third-party independent who will eventually steal votes from the winner, there are many more candidates behind them. Hundreds, in fact.
The FEC’s website has 705 declared candidates for the 2020 nomination, from both major parties, third parties, and write-ins. It’s surprisingly easy to declare a presidential candidacy with the FEC; one merely has to file Statement of Candidacy with basic biographical details, and a Statement of Organization to actually register as a presidential hopeful.
After that, you’re in the race.
As of April 29, an even 700 candidates have filed with the FEC to run for president in 2020.— Ballotpedia (@ballotpedia) May 2, 2019
-236 Democratic candidates
-87 Republican candidates
-25 Libertarian candidates
-14 Green candidates
We have a list of all 700 here ⬇️ https://t.co/5xdX4FIXTd
But just because you’re in the race doesn’t mean you have a shot at winning. The vast majority of these fringe candidates have no infrastructure or campaign to speak of.
Many don’t even have functional websites, or are reusing sites they created for past doomed runs for office. Several seem to have deep-seated personal vendettas against the government or private industries. And while a few are extremely sincere in their desire to run, the vast majority most likely know they have no shot at winning, and instead simply want to publicize a pet issue or cause dear to them.
For many of these unknown, fringe candidates, these issues include income inequality, gun control, drug policy, immigration, or simply how terrible President Donald Trump is. For more right-leaning candidates, it’s offering a reasonable conservative alternative to Trump. But for a few, the fringe itself is their cause, as they use their rudimentary campaign websites and social media to advocate for conspiracy theories, discredited scientific concepts, their own supposedly suppressed miracle inventions, the religious paradise they want to usher in, the breakup of the United States, or to fight their persecution by the government.
Some dance on the line between utopia and fascism and others are little more than thinly disguised scammers.
Here are some of the most fringe-driven outsider candidates of the 2020 election, at least so far. Note that only candidates with an official campaign website were considered, excluding a number who have declared with the FEC but have no real presence online, and haven’t even made a rudimentary effort to put a campaign together.
Jo 753: Born Joseph Edward Gaczol—the Illinois write-in candidate who changed his name to Jo 753—peppers his campaign website with words written in a self-invented “english based international spelling system” called “Nooalf,” and seems to work as a blogger and inventor of various energy and automotive devices.
wi duz xis onle hav 10,182 vyqz?https://t.co/tHrrpbfmLr— JO 753 (@JO753) April 17, 2018
Jo has also spent a considerable amount of time attempting to solve the ancient riddle of whether it’s possible to equally trisect a triangle into three shapes with only a compass and a straight edge, a trick that mathematicians have been unable to accomplish for the last several thousand years.
He’s been at it for several years, and hasn’t gotten much traction. It’s unclear how this will relate to his time in office.
Dan “Taxation is Theft” Behrman: Taking the libertarian notion that government taxation is legal wage theft, Behrman would significantly reduce the size and scope of the government, roll back all income tax, close the Federal Reserve and IRS, end daylight savings time, and massively cull the criminal justice system.
But his true fringe issue is his misinterpretation of a joke by the prime minister of Iceland over making it illegal to put pineapple on a pizza. According to Behrman’s website, this represented an unintentional tipping of the hand for potential government tyranny, writing “Could it have been put on a ballot, even as a joke? Would people have checked that box, even as a joke? Could it have become law, even has a joke? And would that result in people being arrested or their rights violated, just as a joke?”
Behrman believes that such a law could be used on scores of unenforced behavior laws in every state, which would chill freedom to the point of totalitarianism.
LaResa Edwards: A Georgia independent, Edwards is running as a “peacemaker,” billing herself as “GOD’S General, Only Legal Representative and closest human companion,” as well as “THE MESSIAH; Dominion Holder; protector over all Blueprint Earth; Fountain of Youth Discoverer” and more. Her platform includes lofty goals such as abolishing all money in favor of gold, free healthcare, ending war, legalizing all drugs, and “Decrease Mostly Negative Circumstance to Less Than 4% Reality.”
What is “negative circumstance?” Edwards defines it as things “that are not supposed to Exist; like Murder and Rape,” with Positive Circumstances being concepts like “Immortality and Timespace Travel,” which do not actually exist.
La Resa Edwards Publicly Announces. La Resa Edwards can Legally crash any World Market. In Less Than… https://t.co/amhDMVTpht— BS Splitter (@BSSplitter1) August 21, 2015
Walter Bannister: Bannister’s campaign Facebook page is devoted almost entirely to an odd combination of anti-Trump memes and gun rights absolutism, declaring “ANY gun-legislation WHATSOEVER, is an INFRINGEMENT [sic] of the Second Amendment.” These “infringements” appear to include background checks, permits of any kind, and the illegality of automatic weapons, all topics that have been settled by U.S. law as legal checks on the unfettered ownership of guns.
He also supports the usual grab bag of conservative tropes, including abolishing pretty much every government agency, then the government itself, and of course, the end of daylight savings time.
IF I WIN IN 20201) I WILL ABOLISH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT2) NO MORE IRS3) NO MORE INFLATION TAX4) NO MORE FEDERAL...Posted by Walter Randall Bannister on Thursday, February 15, 2018
Scott Meek: On his campaign website, Republican Meek declares himself to be a personal “New World Order,” and advocates for “liberating the slave population” through revealing the technology of suppressed free energy. This is a constant theme for many anti-government conservatives, who always fail to remember that the patents for free energy machines are readily available in the Library of Congress, and that none of these machines actually work because the laws of physics dictate that unlimited energy can’t be produced by a finite source.
Should he become president, Meek also promises to reveal secret government cures for cancer and AIDS, and to answer the question “why does it cost anyone more than 10 a month for phone calls around the world? We all know that there must only be a couple thousand workers at any given major phone company, so why is it that they make billions of dollars a year? Where does all that money go to?”
John Schiess: A perpetual candidate for state and local office, Schiess (it rhymes with “chess”) is running on tried-and-true fringe concepts such as extracting the U.S. from the United Nations, and fighting the ravages of old-school communism and what he deems to be “collectivism.” This includes a loose conglomeration of evils encompassing pretty much every liberal cause real and imaginary, including the Black Lives Matter movement, common core education, the “homosexual movement,” and “invader amnesty.”
Ultimately, Schiess is running on the brutal implementation of two “rules:” Rule #1: “Don’t cause problems for other people to pay for!” And Rule #2 “Keep your socialist hands off my money, my property, and my body…and I want them right now!” [sic]
Michael Bickelmeyer: His candidacy already the subject of a brief Time Magazine profile. Ohio Republican Bickelmeyer has put online a vast wealth of personal information about his personal finances and history, to the point of uploading a personal Social Security statement and a copy of the results of a wrestling tournament he won in grade school.
Like a number of other candidates, Bickelmeyer’s focus seems to be bringing attention to his patents for world-changing inventions. Some of these include “hydrogen fusion power generators” that would create vast amounts of clean energy, an “adaptable airport system with industrial zones,” and a hopelessly complicated satellite laser weapon system designed to kill terrorists and drug dealers from orbit, which he calls “A Gift for Children.”
Rep. Pres. candidate Michael Bickelmeyer: “a gift for children”, an orbital weapon that would concentrate sunlight to fry drug dealers. WTF?— (((dannemil))) (@dannemil) June 25, 2015
John Blythe: On his campaign blog (which he calls a “blyg,”), the Democrat and self-proclaimed “Citizen at Large” often posts a dozen times per day, railing against the Trump administration and its multitude of abuses. He also uses his campaign site to pitch his series of self-published “Blythe America” books. Over six volumes and thousands of pages, Blythe purports to tell the “real” history of the United States from the Great Recession onward.
While there are a lot of them, the books are fairly content free. In fact, they are merely cut and paste blog entries, many of which are personal posts that have nothing to do with Blythe’s unique interpretation of U.S. history.
Caliph of God: Born Luis Correa Thezion, the independent candidate who calls himself “Caliph of God” uses his campaign site to declare that he has “openly for years claimed the title of Caliph of God, and has challenged all the world to contest this claim.” As such, he announced his candidacy with a 4,000 word “message to leftists” that lambastes the “fake money” system of the world, and the slavery he claims it causes.
Upon election, Caliph would execute a 10-day plan to transform America into something equal parts benign dictatorship and global utopia. Caliph would immediately declare a national emergency and force the writing of a new constitution, then begin printing new global currency, abolish all debt, roll back almost every law on the books, return to a common law system with the only two punishments being hard labor or death, nationalize the Federal reserve and the healthcare system, and order the military to build homeless encampments.
Jeff Boss: New York Democrat Boss is a perennial former congressional and mayoral candidate with 15 different failed runs for office on his record. Through them all, Boss has one issue on his mind: what he deems to be the NSA’s near-daily attempts to kill him due to “knowing too much.”
Over dozens of links and posts, Boss’ website meticulously chronicles his war against the National Security Agency, claiming that the government has him marked for harassment, surveillance, and death because he witnessed the NSA “planning the 9/11 attacks.”
Boss has attempted to impeach both Barack Obama and Donald Trump, claims to have videotaped depositions from “500 people” about the NSA trying to kill him, uncovered “evidence” that the agency doctored Obama’s birth certificate, sued the agency for half a billion dollars, and claimed that George W. Bush had to have “hundreds” of people killed in order to run for president. Oh, and he’ll raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour.
Robert Milnes: A three-time presidential candidate as a Green, Milnes opens his campaign website by calling for a coup against Trump and the intelligence community because the 2016 election “was doubly illegitimate, due to foreign interference.” The preferred method for removing the president would be as peaceful as possible, with first responders surrounding government buildings and “arresting everyone inside on RICO charges.”
From there, it gets more troubling, as the rest of his page is a series of diatribes, conspiracy theories, explorations of the “real” origins of the Native American people, and a lengthy defense of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, far from his only brush with anti-Semitism. Milnes expresses “revulsion” for Jews, would order “all Jews [in Israel] to go to the Sinai Peninsula with Egyptian consent,” and has a plan to expel all Jews from both Israel and the United States, onto a purpose-built island in the North Atlantic, administered by the United Nations.
Larry Bluford: A California independent, Bluford believes that the world is destined for destruction within 10 years and his solution is what he calls “The Religion of Self Preservation that teaches you that you are God and your own savior.” From his copious published materials, Bluford seeks to create a utopia of “Zero Death, Zero Hospitals, Zero Crime, Zero Poor [sic], Zero Poverty, and Zero Homelessness” achieved with “self-preservation technology” and artificially intelligent supercomputers.
To that end, his campaign website is full of policy papers, splashy presentations, and even investment guides for how to fund his utopia. In fact, most of the website seems to be a thinly disguised money-making venture, as Bluford sells cryptocurrency called “Utopia Coins” (1 million costs $25), and appears to be selling opportunities to sell life insurance and other various “licenses,” for an upfront fee.
None of these candidates will likely receive more than a smattering of votes in a state primary. But that won’t stop them from almost certainly running again and again.
Or at least until we achieve the socialism-free utopia many long for.
Mike Rothschild is a writer who specializes in researching and debunking conspiracy theories and fringe beliefs. He also writes about politics, history, and breaking news.