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By now, people have been exposed to more news about the 2016 U.S. presidential election than to every bit of news that has happened in the rest of the world over the last ten years. It feels like the American citizenry aren't choosing between political behemoths, but rather a bunch of politicians who look like the first drafts of a hungover political cartoonist. But if we're being totally honest with ourselves, presidential elections have historically been kind of a shitshow. So while we wait to see whether or not the most powerful non-Chinese country is stupid enough to elect an overripe asparagus fart in a suit, enjoy these ridiculous fringe candidates from the past as a reminder of what a weird sham the American presidential race has always been. For example ...

5
William Dudley Pelley Was The First Nazi Cult Leader To Run For President

Harris & Ewing

We've all said or believed things which we came to regret in the fullness of time. And while we can't un-ring those bells, un-speak those words, or un-shave those exes' dogs, what we can do is admit to our mistakes and move forward. Besides, it's not like anyone ran for president on a Nazi platform, proclaiming to become the American Hitler. Except William Dudley Pelley, who did exactly that in 1936.

Pelley was a successful writer and journalist who became a maniacal anti-communist and anti-Semite after spending some time in Russia during the formation of the Soviet Union. In the 1930s, he developed a fiery hate for President Franklin D. Roosevelt because of his destructive socialist initiatives, like offering millions of people aid to keep them from starving to death during the Dust Bowl. Thanks, Roosevelt.

But instead of trying to assassinate the president (which would have gone well with his three-names vibe), Pelley got into politics to counteract this growing communist influence in the United States. He started a fascist organization/cult called the Silver Legion, which is as close to the Legion of Doom as America has yet come. The Silver Legion was inspired by Hitler's Brownshirt militia, and dressed like space-age Mormon missionaries with scarlet Ls on their chests. Really. As their leader, Pelley also began publishing a newsletter which quickly became known as "the most racist publication in the United States" -- which was quite a feat for the 1930s.

Los Angeles Times
If there were any storm troopers we wish could've been fed to the Sarlaac, it's these guys.

Then, in 1936, Pelley finally made the leap to full-blown megalomania when he formed the Christian Party and ran for president on a strict "blame the Jews" platform. The election came and went with Pelley garnering fewer than 5,000 votes (to put that in context, the Silver Legion had a membership of around 15,000). Then, when even the attack on Pearl Harbor failed to stop his pro-Hitler yammering, FDR got J. Edgar Hoover on the case, who quickly found Pelley guilty of numerous acts of treason and sedition and had the American Fuhrer thrown in jail for eight years.

United States Federal Government
He didn't get out until years after Hitler finally had a good idea.

Pelley did have one final nugget of wisdom to share: He frequently predicted that the Last Day of the United States would be September 17, 2001. On the one hand, it's a bit spooky that he managed to pick a day so close to an actual cataclysmic event. But on the other hand, fuck him -- there's no partial credit in fascism.

4
Gabriel Green Was Endorsed By The Aliens Living Secretly Among Us

Ralph Crane/Life Magazine

With the space program hurling so many monkeys, dogs, and humans into the sky, many Americans got a little space-crazy in the 1960s. Also, with Russia doing god-knows-what over there and "balloons" crashing all over "New Mexico," it was a great time to be a crazy dude who believed aliens were about to take over. Gabriel Green was not like those tinfoil conspiracy theorists, though. He was very happy to get taken over by the alien agenda -- so much so that he saw it as his duty to become president in order to ease the transition of welcoming our new alien overlords.

Los Angeles Times
"Kennedy wants to put a man on the Moon? Amateur."

Green gained notoriety in 1960 by running for president on the Universal Flying Saucer ticket. In a radio interview (which must have sounded like a sequel to Orson Welles' War Of The Worlds prank to older listeners), he asserted that aliens called "Ashtars" had been in direct contact with him, trying to impart the Universe's wisdom into his rudimentary monkey brain. Furthermore, over half a million of these E.T.'s had already inserted themselves into the population, disguising themselves as human and observing our tragically self-destructive nature. Green then went on to make it very clear that the aliens were indistinguishable from humans, apart from being better-looking, thus reminding everyone that a vote for Green meant a vote for sexy aliens.

Gabriel Green / Los Angeles Mirror News
Paid for by the Committee of Future Star Trek Captains.

But how did this extensive knowledge of bangable alien infiltrators qualify Green to run the country? Well you see, the aliens had selected Green as their emissary. According to Green, "Renton, of the Alpha Centauri system, dropped in one day in 1959 to sort of twist my arm to be a presidential candidate in the 1960 election." With the help of his alien advisors, his presidential platform was surprisingly well-thought-out, promoting issues like Puerto Rican statehood, unionized labor, and technocentric foreign aid. Most importantly, of course, was to open up the vast governmental conspiracy of hiding alien life to the public, maybe organizing a few brunch meetings between labor leaders and those relentlessly sexy alien spies.

Despite his intergalactic mandate, Green garnered almost no votes and eventually ceded his nomination in support of John F. Kennedy -- who, oddly enough, did not put Green in his cabinet in return. Green ran once again in 1972, but barely received any votes. He remained a strong alien advocate until 2001, when he left our planet and presumably went home.

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3
Leonard Jones Promised Voters They Would Become Immortal

Lucius P. Little

Politicians are notorious for making promises that are left unfulfilled, saying whatever they need to get elected. Eventually, they have to own up to those un-kept promises when voters realize, for instance, that federally-mandated Topless Tuesdays aren't going to happen. But Leonard Jones kept his political promises right up to the moment he died, because dying was exactly what he had promised to abolish.

In 1835, Jones met a preacher named McDaniel, who convinced him that if a person lived right, fasted regularly, and kept a strong faith, they would live forever. McDaniel and Jones even planned on making Columbus, Kentucky the first-ever town where folks could no longer die. Jones thought he had found the solution to escape death, and nothing could shake his belief -- not even when McDaniel keeled over, which Jones attributed to his friend's faith not being strong enough.

West Kentucky Genealogy
Or the town's, apparently.

After McDaniel's death, Jones did realize he was wrong about one thing: One town was small potatoes. To truly make a difference, he would have to turn the entire country in immortal superbeings. Jones went on to form the High Moral Party, which promised immortality to its adherents and, of course, some swell tax breaks from getting rid of healthcare and cemeteries. Despite such a tempting platform, Jones was the sole member of the party. Unfortunately for him, despite being a fervent speaker and political pundit, he was also a fucking idiot. The greatest voter interaction he ever managed to accomplish was when he wouldn't stop giving speeches about the draft in a Minnesota courthouse and several audience members kicked the shit out of him. Not one for lying low, during the next 20 years of his life, Jones continuously nominated himself for various offices, including the office of the president, but never managed to garner many votes. As in, he received zero votes.

Zoltan Istvam
Today's "live forever" candidates, like the coffin bus-driving Zoltan Istvam, fare better simply because they remember to vote for themselves.

But Jones stuck to his guns, even when, at the age of 71, he caught pneumonia and started, you know, dying. Thinking he could "devout" the illness out of his body, Jones refused to be treated by doctors. He died a few days later, which effectively torpedoed his biggest platform.

2
Homer Tomlinson Told Everyone God Wanted Him To Rule The World

Daily Telegraph

Bishop Homer Tomlinson was not a man who took no for an answer. His father had founded and led the Church of God of Prophecy, and when it became clear that his brother would take over the church after his father died, Homer split off and formed his own church, the somewhat vindictively named Church of God, period. Similarly, when history told him that theocratic monarchs were a thing of the past, he said "whatevs" and decided that he would become King of the World. Which meant that he first had to become president of the United States, of course.

Theocratic Party
Even crazed religious zealots know to start small.

Tomlinson had an estimated 75,000 followers in churches all over the country, where he preached that, based on his reading of scripture, the Throne of David was about to be restored to the world. Since he was the first to have discovered this, it naturally followed that he should be the one to sit in it, because God picks rulers of the world the same way radio stations give out Bryan Adams tickets. In 1952, Tomlinson got himself nominated by the Theocratic Party for the presidency, and ran on a platform of having Jesus in control of America, beating George W. Bush to that idea by about half a century.

Theocratic Party
To be fair, a few well-placed smitings could've ended the Cold War immediately.

After Tomlinson failed to win the election, he decided that he might need a bit more authority for his next campaign. Over the next few years, Tomlinson flew all over the world spreading his "I wanna be your dictator" message, declaring over 100 different nations to be under his domain. Unfortunately, he did not win the presidency (or any foreign friends), even though he tried in every election until his death in 1968. In 1966, afraid that time would run out on him, Tomlinson flew to Jerusalem, where he did proclaim himself King of the World. We can only hope his coronation took place on the bow of a ship.

Daily Telegraph
We're guessing the Burger King that he stole that crown from refused to kneel.

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1
Victoria Woodhull Had A Cabinet Of Famous Ghosts As Advisers

Mathew Brady

America, like most countries, has a complicated history when it comes to women and politics. Women's ability to participate in elections has varied over time based on matters like state rights, property rights, and how old and white the dudes in power were when they passed legislation. But in 1872, nearly 50 years before she could even vote for herself, a woman by the name of Victoria Woodhull declared her candidacy for the presidency, proclaiming loudly that she didn't need a man to make her decisions for her. She also claimed to have a full cabinet of ghost advisers, which is a somewhat more difficult progressive stance to get behind.

Along with her sister Tennessee, Woodhull had made a name for herself by being the first female stockbroker in America -- a job which (to use Wall Street jargon) she totally crushed. She got her foot in the door when she offered her services as a spiritual medium to Cornelius Vanderbilt, of the Rich As Fuck Vanderbilts. She then revealed to Vanderbilt that she not only could reach out to his deceased wife, but also pick up some juicy stock tips from the beyond. Under the protection of Vanderbilt, Victoria and Tennessee started trading stocks themselves, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars thanks to "divine intervention." Woodhull's closest spirit advisers were Demosthenes (for wisdom), Napoleon (for courage, and Josephine (for advice on cake futures). It's probably worth mentioning that she was also friends with a high-end brothel owner who eavesdropped on her business tycoon clientele. Probably unrelated, though.

New York Evening Telegraph
Based on this picture, she also wasn't afraid to cash in favors from her other friends, the Bodysnatchers.

In 1872, Woodhull decided to use her 5,000 years of combined ghost wisdom to better not just herself, but all oppressed minorities. She was nominated by the Equal Rights Party, who lauded her as a staunch advocate of women's issues. She was a proponent of free love -- an outrageous notion for the time she lived in, because the 1870s version of free love meant that Woodhull believed women should be allowed to get a divorce and refuse sex to their husbands without punishment (a phrase here meaning "without getting raped"). Far out.

Ultimately, Woodhull's bid failed to garner any significant number of votes. This wasn't helped by the fact that Woodhull was arrested the day before the election for a totally unrelated reason -- namely, that she had published an "obscene" newspaper which criticized the double standard in adultery cases. The fact that her views on equal rights for women earned more public ire and derision than believing that Henry VIII came back from the dead to advise her on day trading says more about America than Americans should be comfortable with.

Thomas Nast
Victoria: "Napoleon says to invest in the railroad."
Men: "Haha, okay."
Victoria: "Women shouldn't be treated as property."
Men: "BURN THE WITCH."

For more nutjobs that were a little too close to becoming world leaders, check out The 6 Most Insane People To Ever Run For President and 5 Crazy People Who Had A Shot At The Presidency.

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