The Most Bizarre Presidential Campaigns Ever

Regardless of your preferred political party/lifestyle/dogma, most people can agree that the last few years have seen U.S. politics go absolutely haywire, particularly when it comes to presidential campaigns. These days, candidates ranging from unconventional to ludicrous have all dogpiled the field. Sure, elections were never particularly polite, considering the ridiculously rude ways that founding fathers like Jefferson and Adams trashed each other back in 1800, but still.

However, if you thought the mainstream field of professional lawyers, billionaires, and other colossal egos running every four years wasn't wacky enough, get a load of the alternative candidates that are too weird for TV. For every two major candidates who make it to the electoral college, they leave behind lots of yammering, jabbering other folks, some of whom do things like wear a boot as a hat, travel through time, drink hydrogen peroxide, suck blood(!), or burn down their own dental offices. Here are some of the absolutely weirdest presidential campaigns of all time.

The time traveler

Hey, if there are any real time travelers reading this, please do run for president. Seriously! As long as you're not John Titor or the T-800, any candidate who has already seen the future would be ideally primed to prevent a nuclear apocalypse, climate catastrophe, world wars ... right?

On the other hand, though, it's hard to be too sure about self-proclaimed "chrononaut" Andrew Basiago, a Seattle lawyer who ran for president in 2016 and is also a fervent believer in UFOs and Bigfoot. According to Gizmodo, Basiago's presidential campaign was just a formality, as the time traveler claimed he'd already visited a future where, sometime between now and 2028, he's going to win the presidency. His policies, of course, are entirely based on whatever lessons he's learned from his time-hopping experiences. Some of his greatest highlights include seeing Abraham Lincoln give the Gettysburg Address, live, as well as a bizarre 1980s adventure to Mars, which he reportedly experienced alongside a young Barack Obama. Now there's a cool concept for a sci-fi movie! So far, Basiago hasn't succeeded at his lofty goal, but honestly, if the U.S. is going to have a time-traveling president, this guy should learn some lessons from Dr. Sam Beckett.

The sacred king of the world

The whole idea of separation of church and state is a pretty key part of U.S. law, and for good reason, but don't tell that to the ghost of preacher Homer Tomlinson. According to the New York Times, Tomlinson ran for president not once, not twice, but on four separate occasions. His platform involved enacting the Ten Commandments into law and then replacing all other laws with his own 48 Laws based on Christian values. On top of that, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review says he intended to create a cabinet post for what he referred to as the Secretary of Righteousness and to replace all taxation with biblical tithing (a concept Dr. Ben Carson later also took up).

Understandably, Tomlinson ran for president on what he called the Theocratic ticket. Also understandably, he lost. No skin off his back, though: When democracy failed to grant him power, Tomlinson simply declared himself the King of the World. He even wore a crown. The not-so-humble ruler reigned over the immoral populace of Earth until his death in 1968.

The vampire candidate

If a blood-sucking creature of the night just had to run for U.S. president, most people would probably prefer to have a badass do-gooder like Blade than some evil overlord like Count Orlok. Unfortunately, in the real world, the only vampiric presidential candidate to date has been an unusual New Jersey resident named Jonathan Sharkey, according to CBS. His preferred title is "the Impaler," after Vlad the Impaler, who he claims is his direct ancestor. Sharkey's identification as a vampire is due to his predilection for drinking the blood of his romantic partners; he told ABC he enjoys a little hemoglobin at least twice a week. Sharkey ran for president in 2004, 2008, and 2012, with the focal point of his campaign being a tough-on-crime platform. He argued that instead of putting criminals in jail, they should be tortured, dismembered, and yes, impaled.

The truly disturbing thing about Sharkey, though, wasn't his political views but his personal life. Sharkey publicly bragged about only dating girls younger than 19, and he was accused of brainwashing a 16-year-old to the point that her family filed a restraining order.

A punk rocker and a death row inmate

Time for some punk rock trivia! Which member of the Dead Kennedys once ran for president?

Former lead singer Jello Biafra. For the record, though, it wasn't his idea. According to MTV, Jello was selected as a presidential candidate in 2000 by the New York State Green Party, and Biafra quickly made it clear that he hoped his opponent Ralph Nader would clinch the nomination (as he did). Nonetheless, he did pick a running mate, selecting Mumia Abu-Jamal, a journalist who at the time was sitting on death row for the 1981 death of a police officer. This wasn't a random choice: Biafra wanted to bring more awareness to Abu-Jamal's ongoing fight for a new trial. As for his campaign initiatives, Biafra argued for a "maximum wage," where anyone making over six figures would be taxed heavily, with the funds sent to free health care, schooling, and transportation, while anyone making under $100,000 would pay no taxes. He also argued for lowering the voting age to 5 and abolishing all branches of U.S. military and intelligence.

Now, while Biafra is quite serious about his political views, his presidential "campaign" was obviously somewhat tongue-in-cheek. His effort to bring more attention to Abu-Jamal, though, was perhaps more successful. The following year, the New York Times reported that Abu-Jamal's death sentence had been overturned.

Jack Shepard, the fugitive dentist

No, this isn't Dr. Jack Shephard, the heroic star of Lost, who arguably made a pretty capable leader (unless you ask Sawyer). Instead, this is Dr. Jack Shepard, only one "h," a dentist who allegedly burned down his own Minneapolis dental office in 1982, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. It's bad enough to torch your own business, but on top of that, Shepard had previously pleaded guilty to both narcotics possession and fourth-degree sexual assault, so his record already wasn't great. Rather than face all these charges, Shepard fled to Rome. A few decades later, like any wanted fugitive, Shepard decided to ... uh, run for president in the 2008 election? Hmm, sure sounds like someone wanted to pardon himself.

Shepard's campaign certainly wasn't a joke, considering he took out a $30,000 loan for it. Even after he lost the presidential election, he kept trying to break into U.S. politics via a congressional seat, according to MinnPost, to little avail. In regard to his clear record of rather abnormal behaviors, Shepard has since gone on to blame his old doctors for prescribing him lithium. Shepard hasn't been back in the U.S. since he fled, so calling his campaigns "long shots" is being polite.

He lived forever ... until he died

Not all of the craziest presidential candidates were born in the 20th century, according to an 1868 issue of the Echo. Back in the 1800s, there was a man named Leonard "Live Forever" Jones, the presidential candidate for the High Moral Party, who genuinely believed that if a person could live their life faithfully, as a devoted child of God, avoiding all sinful actions ... they would never die. Cool beans. Jones ran for office multiple times, touting his great health, his faith, and his strict moral code. According to the Chicago Tribune, he preached of a future where cemeteries would no longer be necessary since nobody would ever have to die. You know, at least until the point where good ol' Duncan MacLeod starts lopping off heads with his sword to a rockin' Queen soundtrack.

Now, if Jones was right, he'd be alive today — and so would everyone born in the 20th century — but in real life, the Live Forever candidate didn't live forever. In 1868, he died after a short bout with pneumonia, according to the Nation, for which he refused medical treatment.

Jack Fellure, the candidate who (seriously) wants to take your alcohol away

If there's one thing that most Democrats, Republicans, Democratic Socialists, anarchists, communists, Libertarians, and everyone else can agree on, it's the benefits of a nice cold beer or perhaps a glass of wine at the end of a long day. Sometimes, alcohol is the only way to get two political combatants in the same room together. It's the ultimate lubricant for controversial discussions.

Unless you're a member of the Prohibition Party. According to The Fix, these anti-drinking crusaders have somehow managed to become the oldest continually running party in the nation. They must've taken it pretty hard on the chin when actual alcohol prohibition got repealed in 1933, eh? Anyhow, their 2012 candidate was Jack Fellure. Fellure's incredibly preachy "platform," as he explained it, was based on a strict interpretation of the authorized 1611 King James Bible. His other views weren't any less extreme, as an old Star News article quotes him as ranting about how former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton are guilty for handing the country over to a vile takeover by supposed "Marxists, liberals, queers, liars, draft-dodgers, flag-burners, dope addicts, sex perverts, and anti-Christians." That's a lot of nasty prejudices grouped into one sentence. Maybe this guy just needs to chill out with a beer?

The big boot himself

Sometimes, an acquired taste becomes a popular dish, and that's the case with perennial fringe candidate Vermin Supreme. A longtime favorite in New England, Vermin went viral back in 2012, according to the Odyssey, when he literally glitter-bombed a fellow candidate during a live televised debate. Vermin's chosen name is a clear dig at the other politicians, and his platform revolves around giving every citizen of the United States a free pony while switching the country to a pony-based economy. His most aggressive policy, of course, is mandatory toothbrushing laws. So long, gingivitis! 

Still, it doesn't take a genius to see that this wild, wizardly fellow with a boot on his head is a performance artist, which raises a big question: Who is the real Vermin behind all the glitter attacks? In an interview with New Hampshire Magazine, he said he and his wife have lived a low-key, low-rent lifestyle in the woods for about 30 years, and he thanks the great state of New Hampshire for encouraging him to become what he is today. As for his birth name, it remains a mystery, though the Odyssey says he did legally change it to Vermin Love Supreme some time ago.

UFOs are always the answer

Decades before Giorgio A. Tsoukalos (the "Aliens!" guy with the crazy hair) cornered the market on extraterrestrial conspiracy theories, the United States was still grappling with whether little green men were the coolest sci-fi concept ever or something to have nightmares about every time weird lights blinked in the sky. That's why 1960 was the perfect time for the arrival of a prominent young bachelor named Gabriel Green, who ran for president on the flying saucer ticket.

Though Green was born with an unbelievably perfect surname for a UFOlogist, he claimed that his reluctant decision to run for U.S. president in 1960 was not born from his own ambition, but rather a "request from the space people." According to the Los Angeles Times, Green's intergalactic advisers were some seriously cool dudes from Alpha Centauri who wanted to teach Earth people about peace and love, but — if it came down to it — could wipe out humanity in a few hours. So Green was basically performing the same role as Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still, warning humanity to vote for him or risk going extinct. Green didn't win, but luckily, the Earthlings survived. It's really a crying shame that U.S. history professors always spend so much time talking about that televised Kennedy/Nixon debate, when this crazy character was part of the same election cycle.

The joys of hydrogen peroxide

These days, everyone has strong opinions on health care, but the most bizarre solution ever proposed must be credited to a 2012 presidential candidate named Lester Byerly, who thinks the miracle cure for every medical funding crisis in the nation is ... uh, making everyone gulp down hydrogen peroxide. (Please don't try this at home, kids, or adults, or anyone else.) According to Philadelphia Weekly, Byerly's not-so-scholarly argument is that drinking the contents of this little bottle in your medicine cabinet can cure everything from cancer to the common cold. This opinion puts him at odds with doctors, nurses, and the FDA, not to mention the many dog owners who use hydrogen peroxide as an emergency vomit aid. However, Byerly is right about one thing: If hydrogen peroxide did cure everything, it would alleviate the need for hospitals, since everyone would just be healthy. Too bad it doesn't work.

Not content with merely resolving the U.S. health care debate, Byerly also recommends fixing the country's financial woes by issuing what he calls "Federal Reserve debit cards," with a starting balance of $12,000, to any U.S. residents who are making under $50,000 a year. Hey, with that amount, you could definitely buy a lot of hydrogen peroxide!

John Maxwell, the vegetarian restaurateur

There's nothing particularly strange about being a vegetarian, even in the weird world of Washington. Plenty of noteworthy U.S. politicians have avoided meat, from Benjamin Franklin to Tulsi Gabbard, and they've generally kept their dietary habits separate from their political initiatives. On the other hand, a man named John Maxwell was once the linchpin of something called the American Vegetarian Party. Ever heard of it? Didn't think so.

Maxwell, for the record, sounds like he was a pretty cool guy. Both a naturopathic doctor and the owner of a swell vegetarian restaurant in Chicago, Maxwell was 85 years old, according to Vegetarian Times, when he and his buddy Symon Gould decided to throw their hats in for the 1948 presidential election. Their platform? They wanted to create a law barring farmers from spending more than one-fifth of their time raising livestock intended for slaughter. They also wanted to put all natural resources under federal ownership and give government pensions of $100 a month to anybody over the age of 65. The presidential campaign did not go well. Maxwell and Gould snagged a grand total of four votes. Even if it had been more successful, though, PBS points out that they probably would've run into trouble with the fact that Maxwell was originally from England, not the United States.