Vermin Love Supreme is the name of a supposedly farcical politician who’s run in a number of local, state, and federal elections since 1988. Take a moment to watch the below panel hosted by CSPAN. Vermin Supreme – as he legally changed his name to sometime in the ‘90s – is the gentleman wearing a boot on his head, just to be sure.
Supreme is known in some circles as a performance artist. Fine. Anyway, I don’t know a ton about politics, but I do know a lot about art. And one of the chief rules is this: despite inevitable delusion therein, art is usually based in some social reality. And by even a small measure of success, Mr. Supreme has been allowed on the ballot a number of times in real life. This is his second time running with recognition for President of the United States. In 2008, he received 43 votes nationwide, according to the Federal Election Commission and about threefold that in primaries. This year, he qualified for the New Hampshire 2012 Democratic primary, where he received 833 votes. In comparison, Ron Paul received 2,289 and President Obama received 49,080, according to the election board there. He ran as a Democrat this year in order to give people a chance to vote for him against Obama, and filed his paperwork the same day as Rick Perry.
Based on the notion that more than a few have granted Supreme a level of credibility, year after year – even if he's an “erroneous” candidate – let’s enter discourse here: Vermin Supreme could legitimately run for president. Here are six things he’s got in common with frontrunners past and present.
Engaging the Dead
Republican candidates love pulling the Reagan card, evoking the deceased hero president’s name when trying to tie their campaign to some notion of sentimentality and politic. Here are the latest numbers, according to The New York Times: Gingrich is at 55 Reagan-mentions in debate, Romney at 6, including one instance wherein he cited Reagan’s diary in ol’ Ronnie’s contempt for Gingrich. Obama’s mentioned his admiration for Reagan as well, citing his capacity for actual change.
And sure while the candidates will invoke Reagan’s name in trying to bolster their campaigns, only Mr. Supreme has the guts to go toe-to-toe with the dead who are actually challenging him in the polls. According to The Boston Phoenix’s political correspondent David S. Bernstein, Supreme’s chief write-in rival for primary office was none other than long-deceased British mystic Aleister Crowley. So Supreme did what made sense: he took on Crowley in a debate. Bernstein actually moderated the event and the Phoenix’s Carly Carioli writes the claims made by the participants “were scarcely less crazy, and often far more rational, and truthful, than what's being proposed in the Republican presidential debates.” Yes, that’s right: dead occultists are more rational and honest than living Republicans.
Sign it in Blood
Obama is known often to cite the good names of his mother and grandmother in order to tug at the heartstrings of his constituents. Hell, he even named one of his books Dreams of my Father. Mitt Romney’s whipped out the family values card as well, even pulling the old “I saw my father march with Martin Luther King, Jr.” line. (He didn’t.)
But has a Presidential candidate ever been tied to a family member in such a material way as having donated an organ? I can’t answer that question with absolute certainty, but the Concord Monitor confirmed this year that Supreme donated one of his kidneys to his mother when she was diagnosed with renal failure. The article also noted he favors showing off his scar, in a nod to Lyndon B. Johnson’s doing the same after a gall-bladder surgery. Speaking of family, Supreme is also a devoted husband, but the couple has no children by political impetus, “non-breeders by choice,” Supreme says. That sounds suspiciously Communist, but FYI: Presidents Madison, Polk, and Buchanan were each childless.
Ask Not What You Can Do For Your Country, Ask: What’s For Dinner?
Let’s just assume Herman Cain’s candidacy fell apart because of the number of sexual harassment claims leveled against him during the end of his campaign.That means the public must have accepted his experience as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza as rational.
Supreme has been similarly business-minded in his past, booking shows at Baltimore venues after dropping out of art school. He’s also been an activist in a number of protest movements. He joined the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament and has shown support for the Occupy movement, though has distanced himself from that proper. He’s articulate about his beliefs when approached rationally. We can’t necessarily say the same for Cain – dude couldn’t even name the President of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan. What a ding-dong!
It’s fairly commonplace to assume poetics, at least in part, from a candidate’s speech. Metaphor has long been used in order to convey understandable meaning to the under-educated masses. President Truman favored the colloquial “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” as one example. And granted, Romney might be a little too pragmatic to convey the concrete through the abstract. So for a really good example, let’s look to someone who recently won the presidency. To quote George W. Bush’s 2005 inauguration address: “…And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it. By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well – a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.”
Check out this similarly oblique and meaningless analog from Supreme, to quote his New Hampshire primary address: “Gingivitis has been eroding the gum line of this great nation long enough and must be stopped. For too long this country has been suffering a great moral and oral decay, in spirit and incisors. A country’s future depends on its ability to bite back. We can no longer be a nation indentured. Our very salivation is at stake.” At 25-years old and cavity free, this is political language I understand.
Supreme has been known to carry a giant toothbrush around, to represent his support of a mandatory national tooth-brushing initiative. And while as outlandish as that seems in practice, guess what? The Massachusetts Executive Office of Education passed in January 2010 law 606 CMR 7.11 (11)(d), otherwise defined as such: “Educators must assist children in brushing their teeth whenever they are in care for more than four hours or whenever they consume a meal while in care.” According to the document: “Untreated dental caries can inhibit learning, speech, and eating, leading to problems in school and poor nutrition.” Perhaps Supreme is just ahead of the federal curve?
Similarly, former Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney helped to pass near-universal healthcare coverage in April of 2006, as governor of Massachusetts. His single-payer system was so successful President Obama’s healthcare reform was based off the same principles. Sure, that legislation has fallen out of favor in recent months, but that’s not to say Romney couldn’t defend it: “If somebody in your state who doesn’t have insurance has a terrible automobile accident … we don’t let them die in the street. Guess who pays for it? You. The government.”
Let me just hammer out the most recent and blatant of baseless claims made by a Republican frontrunner. During the Florida debate on Monday, January 23, Newt Gingrich claimed he had balanced the budget four times as Speaker of the House. This statement was confirmed as false by The Washington Post, The Tampa Bay Times’ Politifact, and the Associated Press. In reality, the four federal surpluses the former speaker, erm, spoke of occurred between 1998 and 2001, largely the result of federal budget packages he opposed in 1990 and 1993. Gingrich left congress in January ’99.
Further, the former speaker was indicted on 84 ethics charges while holding office has speaker of the house, The Daily Beast reported on Tuesday, as one example of living outside the reality of rules and their application to a public servant’s life. Romney, as another example, released his tax records Tuesday, though, according to Reuters substantial data was missing about his time at Bain Capital – what is he hiding?
At least Vermin Supreme has the willingness to say, “Yes I am a politician. I will promise you anything your little electorate heart desires, because you are my constituents, you are the informed voting public, and because I have no intention of keeping any promise that I make.” We are apparently the realities we choose to convey, and Supreme wants nothing more than to be your mirror. He even told the Concord Monitor, “I lie to the press about [my personal history].” Now that right there is transparency in politics.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Vermin Love Supreme, your next candidate for the Presidency of the United States. I, for one, can’t wait to get my mandatory identification pony.