Alternative Presidential Candidates

If there is one thing I’m really looking forward to in this election cycle, it’s the amazing proliferation of candidates which is sure to result in some absolutely zany political propaganda. I mean, it’s going to be hard to top the one transcendentally awesome television commercial that the Mike Gravel for President 2008 campaign came up with and actually broadcast:

Mike Gravel – Rock –

I did a couple rounds with a colleague at work about this commercial. He thought it was there as a sorting mechanism — Gravel is making a through-the-camera sort of telepathic, empathic communication, trying to appeal directly to the viewer’s unconscious. My own opinion was that this is Gravel’s modern-day answer to the Flower Sermon, and he was quite content with most everyone not “getting it” because if only a small number of people really understood him, that was good enough for him. (Upon presentation of this theory, my colleague pantomimed inhalation of a marijuana joint.)

Now, we’ve seen weird campaign ads since this one. Nothing, though, had yet approached the towering magnificence of this advertisement’s absurdity. Which is the cause of a faint despair in my heart. But as I was reminded last night on the radio, hundreds of people file eligibility statements for their candidacy to run for public office every election cycle. I doubt I’m going to need to look beyond Presidential candidates to find some good material to offer up against Gravel’s epic bit of campaign surreality.

And lo! it took me exactly three Google searches from the names of candidates I’d never heard of who’d filed for President just since April Fool’s Day of this year to find all sorts of interesting things about candidate Zillionaire Empress Danielle Berhane, of Phoenix, Arizona. I’m taking all of her internet claims about herself at face value, because… why wouldn’t I?

Zillionaire Empress Berhane is a direct descendent of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie. She is running for the Republican Party’s nomination for President, but has designated the National Republican Congressional Committee, which to my knowledge attempts to elect Republicans to the House of Representatives, as her campaign committee. (The NRCC’s website does not seem to contain any reference to her, which must be an oversight by their web designer.) Her past political and charitable activities includes private fundraising to fund reparations to all African-Americans, helping families in Addis Abba, and funding the Prince Charles Drawing School. Her political effectiveness speaks for itself:

Zillionaire Empress Danielle  Berhane was Mount Pleasant County Chair for Senator John Mc Cain’s Presidential Campaign and Senator Tom Cole appointed her to his business advisory council with the National Republican Congressional Committee  (NRCC)  Today Republicans control The House of Representatives.

While she doesn’t yet have a specific campaign website, she is the richest human being on the planet, is a published author of paperback books that sell for over two thousand dollars a copy, through her presidency of the Motion Picture Actors Guild of America an experienced litigant, and if the political campaign doesn’t work out, she’s got the entertainment management work to fall back on and good news, she’s accepting new clients! A video of her demonstrates how she plans to invest in America.

Just imagine what America might be like with Zillionaire Empress Danielle Berhane in the White House!



Some of you may be saying, “I’ve clicked on some of those links, and it seems like this woman is a little bit, well, touched.” That may be so. I’m not trying to mock her. There’s grandiosity there, but that’s just one of a long laundry list of factors in one entry in DSM-V. I honestly think that she’s a harmless eccentric, which is what I expect to find a lot of in this project.

What’s more, she’s an American citizen, exercising her right to stand for President, and aside from some self-aggrandizement in promoting her commercial ventures and a colorful choice of name, she is, on paper at least, on an equal footing with other people seeking the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016, people like Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul. Governor Huckabee, Senator Paul, Secretary Hillary Clinton, and their ilk are certainly fair game for display onstage at the theater of the absurd, by virtue of their having intentionally inserted themselves onto the public stage. They may have more “credibility” as candidates, but is Ms. Berhane really that much different? She’s out of the mainstream, to be sure. Maybe it’s good to look out of the mainstream, if only briefly, to see what that sort of thing actually looks like.

Know that I will not knowingly publicize someone who is obviously mentally ill for the sake of pointing and laughing at them. But people with odd ideas and idiosyncratic ways of portraying themselves — what Ms. Berhane looks like to me — are part of what flavors our polity. And they attract dozens of votes! Some of these folks will be risible (although we need not be cruel to laugh), some will have weird ideas that have very very obviously not been thought through at all, and some of them might have weird ideas that maybe, just might, be worth a mental flyer. We won’t know until we start looking, will we? It’s got to be more interesting than listening to twenty-two potentially viable Republicans* try to be more conservative than each other!

But mainly, I hope to find some campaign videos that potentially rival the singular eccentricity of Senator Gravel’s.


* The charismatic and smart and decidedly not-conservative MSNBC pundit Rachel Maddow, the list once alphabetically sorted is 1) Jeb Bush, 2) John Bolton, 3) Ben Carson, 4) Chris Christie, 5) Ted Cruz, 6) Bob Ehrlich, 7) Carly Fiorina, 8) Jim Gilmore, 9) Lindsey Graham, 10) Mike Huckabee, 11) Bobby Jindal, 12) John Kasich, 13) Peter King, 14) George Pataki, 15) Rand Paul, 16) Mike Pence, 17) Rick Perry, 18) Marco Rubio, 19) Rick Santorum, 20) Rick Snyder, 21) Donald Trump, and 22) Scott Walker. She’s straining a bit on a few of them to say that they’re potentially viable candidates, in my opinion. Seems to me there’s really Bush, Rubio, Cruz, Paul, Walker, and everyone else. Even so, it’s a crowded field right now and it’s early yet.


Image source: wikimedia commons.

Burt LikkoBurt Likko is the pseudonym of an attorney in Southern California and the managing editor of Ordinary Times. His interests include Constitutional law with a special interest in law relating to the concept of separation of church and state, cooking, good wine, and bad science fiction movies. Follow his sporadic Tweets at @burtlikko, and his Flipboard at Burt Likko.

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14 thoughts on “Alternative Presidential Candidates

  1. I’m all for more folks into the political process. But one issue I have is, say the debates. A nice, decorous series of statements, on topics the group has approved. BS. I want a wide ranging verbal brawl.

    Not only would it be good tv, but we’d really get to see people think on their feet and refute statements from other candidates, so…’s not going to happen. All the more reason to insist on the. The last Republican debate I saw ignored fundamental points of contention and merely exposed how in sync all the candidates were. The same can be said for the other side.

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  2. Count me as someone who thinks this woman sounds potentially mentally ill.

    There has to be a psychological study out there (or some really good stuff to mine) about why mentally ill people sometimes turn to the legal/political system as an expression of their mental illness. One of the earliest things I learned is that there are a lot of pro se lawsuits out there from mentally ill people with all sorts of outlandish claims in the Complaint.

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      • I am not sure how I feel about the overlap between conspiracy theories, UFO coverups, and mental illness. I don’t think extra-terristerial life is necessarily farfetched (we live in a very big universe and it would be shocking if only Earth developed life as we recognize it). I am more dubious about the cover-up and whether alien life visits earth stuff.

        I suppose we can be amused by it but I also feel kind of sad for these people.

        FWIW I also feel compassion for Malvolio even though he is a right prick and “Does thou because thou art virtuous, there should be no more cakes and ale” is one of my favorite lines from Shakespeare and one that I would love to say to a Huckabee or a Santorum.

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      • This seems like it would be a delightful series,

        I find it a bit discomforting to speculate about someone’s mental illness; there’s got to be a better term; something that also engages possibilities of mental competence, sound judgement, perhaps performance art, etc.

        Perhaps Chris has a suggestion here.

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