Headlines call this year’s presidential field “historically large,” focusing on the 24 “top tier” Democrats. But most have ignored the 739 others vying for a slice of the spotlight.
If you look deep enough into this mosh pit of first-time — and longtime — candidates, you’ll find a bevy of Bushes and Washingtons, two Kennedys and a Carter.
There’s a Karen Deez Nutz, not to be confused with a Kanye Deez Nutz West, along with a Pravda and a Baruch, a St. Louis and a Cleveland, a Disney and a Fox, a Brown, a Black, a Gray, a Green and a Greene.
There is a candidate already named President Boddie and a man named Sexy Vegan. Two animals — Seven the Dog and Seymour Cats — are running. Seymour has the better tag line: “If you want to run with the big dogs, you’ve got to vote for a cat.”
The requirements to be president of the United States have nothing to do with how many donors you have or who supports you in which states. The Constitution simply requires that the candidate be a natural-born citizen of the United States, a resident for 14 years and at least 35 years old. (So I suppose Seven the Dog and Seymour Cats are already out of the running. Unless dog/cat years count.)
Who are these candidates who can’t be found at a CNN town hall and whose Sunday mornings are free from news-show invites?
They are driven by a policy, a position, a point of view, a feeling that they can do better. That America can do better. And it’s clear that whatever criteria the parties or the news media use to declare a top-tier candidate, it doesn’t ensure that the most interesting candidates get the attention.
Sexy Vegan, running as an independent, will not be topping any polls, although he would have a distinct advantage on a crowded debate stage since his name is tattooed on his face.
Others stand out with a good website, a clever tag line, a catchy email address. Dan Behrman leads the “Taxation Is Theft” movement and has a website that he runs from Cancún, Mexico. He calls for eliminating the Internal Revenue Service, ending the Federal Reserve and legalizing pineapple pizza.
Some offer email addresses as their only contact point. Keyshawn Dwayne Varnado’s campaign lists email@example.com as the way to reach him.
Billy Rubin is particularly hampered, since whenever you search his name you are sent to a page defining bilirubin, the “orange to yellow bile pigment.”
Pamela Rocker, a transgender woman running on a “One Human Race” platform focused on L.G.B.T.Q. rights, is campaigning on a “free car” initiative, to ensure that all Americans have a vehicle to get to and from work.
And while many have controversial points of view, Chomi Prag contends that zero minus 50 does not equal -50. Her campaign literature says, “Negative numbers do not exist, contrary to the flawed human system, social conditioning as well as the a [sic] calculator.”
And so they run, for the most part, within the requirements set out in the Constitution in 1787: citizenship, residency and age. As Tench Coxe, a member of the Continental Congress, put it, a president “cannot be an idiot, probably not a knave or a tyrant, for those whom nature makes so, discover it before the age of 35. …”