2008's weirdest independents

Ransom Riggs

They might not win -- heck, getting on the ballot is a victory for these candidates -- but third-party presidential hopefuls are part of what keep America's election cycle interesting. No, we're not talking about the Greens, Libertarians or even the Constitution Party (fronting such luminaries as Jim Gilchrist, founder of the home-grown border patrol Minutemen Project). Today we're more interested in the really little guys, like Jonathon "The Impaler" Sharkey, sole candidate from the Vampires, Witches and Pagans party. A Satanic vampire running on an "impale criminals" platform, perhaps the most surprising thing about him is that he's run for office several times before -- including once as a Republican in Florida. (His name back then? Rocky "Hurricane" Flash. He lost, perhaps because Floridians are a little touchy about the whole hurricane thing.) Here's a little about what he stands for, in his own words:

"I have a 13 point plan that includes better benefits for farmers and veterans. I will also give more funding to our school system and fix the pot holes on our city streets. Not to mention the FACT that I will personally impale any and all wrong doers in the steps of the Governor's mansion. If you are a child molester, rapist, drug dealer or terrorist you will be IMPALED!"

"Average Joe" Schriner is campaigning on the platform that he's just like the rest of us -- whatever that means. This is his third presidential election bid, and he and his family typically spend about three months on the road campaigning per election. Vermont's Cris Ericson is currently organizing to run as a candidate in the Marijuana Party (I don't think we need to explain their platform; it certainly doesn't involve impaling anyone). Her Myspace page points out that "In your entire life, Democrats and Republicans have not made marijuana legal!"

Lest we forget, there's also John Bowles of the American Nazi Party (notable among other positions we needn't elaborate upon here, he advocates free college educations for all (white people) and shorter working hours (for white people)). On the other end of the political spectrum, Lanakila Washington and his Humanist Party press for nuclear disarmament, equal rights, clean energy and "making America a land of music, culture and education." (I think "Make America a land of music" is one of the best platforms I've heard yet.)

There are plenty more -- check out politics1.com -- but honestly it's hard enough keeping track of all the candidates who actually have a snowball's chance of winning. Sometimes, though, the sideshow is more interesting than the main event.