You, Too, Can Run For President!

It's Fun! It's Easy! It's All-American! And Everything You Need Is Right Here!

Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?

-- Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72

AND THE GOOD Dr. Thompson was just talking about the Nixon-McGovern race. It's a safe bet he never foresaw a contest between Pat Buchanan and Donald Trump.

Guess anybody really can run for president these days -- and that includes YOU! So we're here to help you launch your very own presidential campaign. As we stand at the dawn of a new millennium (that's the kind of thing you're going to have to say a lot if you choose to run), there's no shortage of folks who figure they're cut from presidential timber. Besides Buchanan and Trump, Warren Beatty, Cybil Shepard and Jesse "The Body" Ventura are hearing the call. It's almost enough to make Steve Forbes look good. Almost.

Poor Forbes -- he's blowing millions of the old family fortune, he's hiring the best consultants in politics, he's pandering to the Religious Right, and he still can't break double-digits in the polls. It's sad but true, Steve -- you're a nerd, you've always been a nerd, and you'll always be a nerd.

Forbes is walking proof that money can't always buy an election -- and a slickly packaged Texas governor is evidence it still can, sometimes. As we close in on primary season, George W. is the overwhelming frontrunner, mostly because he's foregone spending limits and raised more than $60 million. And, in a circular twist of political logic, he's been able to raise more than $60 million because he's the frontrunner.

But voters don't know much about him besides his political pedigree -- and his tight image control with the press is designed to ensure they don't learn much more beyond the words Compassionate Conservative.

The strategy was working until just a few short weeks ago, when the poll numbers started to tank in New Hampshire. Since W's big purse chased candidates like Lamar Alexander, Dan Quayle and Liddy Dole out of the race, that leaves our senior senator, John McCain, nipping at his heels. The Bush team is worried a New Hampshire win could lead to a McCain rally and pop his balloon.

Given the field he's in, McCain has to be running second place. Two of the other candidates, Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes, seem to have mistaken the running for president for running for Ayatollah, further splintering the social conservative vote that Forbes is trying to buy. Between the three of 'em, they're capturing maybe 20 percent of the electorate.

The slick-tongued Keyes has taken to complaining that he's not getting fair coverage in the media because he's black. It may have more to do with his tendency to insist that all of the nation's problems could be solved if we outlawed abortion. Keyes announced at a recent debate that he wants to replace the income tax with a system of tariffs, trades and duties -- because, after all, the economy is in such a downward spiral that we need that kind of radical reform. Keyes rails against government so endlessly that he appears to think the federal government oughta do just one thing: ensure women don't have the choice to terminate a pregnancy.

Watching these guys in the recent hopelessly boring debates where they try to appeal to the average Republican voter by outdoing each other with tax cuts for the obscenely wealthy, you can't help but miss Pat Buchanan, who always brought fire-and-brimstone to the table with a sense of style. Pat's decided to skip the fixed GOP primary process and bolt to what's left of the wacky Ross Perot's Reform Party and its $13 million in public campaign funds.

Of course, that means Pat has to work with the people in the Reform Party -- which, on the East Coast, seem mostly to be members of a crooked psychopolitical cult led by Lenora Fulani, a black neomarxist who was chanting Go Pat Go at a news conference just a few short months ago. Evidently, Pat has worked out some sort of alliance with Fulani's wing of the party -- although both sides have probably worked out about about two dozen ways to doublecross the other at the first opportunity. Strange bedfellows, indeed -- no wonder Christian fundamentalists figure we're living in the End Times.

The biggest Reform Party operative to stand up to Pat is Minnesota Gov. Jesse "The Body" Ventura, who's trying to recruit Donald Trump for a presidential run to block Buchanan's nomination. Trump seems intrigued by the idea, mostly because he thinks it'll give him a new line to pick up chicks.

With that kind of action on the fringes, it's no wonder people think Al Gore and Bill Bradley are boring. Of course they're boring -- they're men who have dedicated most of their adult lives to studying public policy. How can that compare to training for your political career alongside Hulk Hogan? Go figure -- Gore has been an active participant in an administration that has seen the most prosperous boom in modern history, and now he's likely to be shown the door because his boss snuck a couple blowjobs from a hot-n-horny intern.

The wreckage lining our political landscape is the inevitable collision of the strongest forces in our society -- a high-speed pile-up of politics, celebrity, ego and money.

It's become such a sideshow that the LF Caliente sportsbook in Puerto Peñasco is taking action on the outcome. You can lay down your money on anyone from George W., who's running about even money, to Hulk Hogan, who's sitting at 999-1. McCain, at 18-1, is looking pretty good as an underdog bet.

HOW MANY TIMES have you watched these guys spit out their soundbites and known you could do a better job than these clowns? Well, here's your chance -- because in Arizona, getting on the GOP presidential primary ballot is a snap!

How do you take advantage of this chance to tell your grandkids you sought the White House in the year 2000?

The Republican Party will have its presidential primary on February 22. This is a GOP-only affair; the Republican-controlled state Legislature, in its rush to become a kingmaker state, scheduled the primary so early that National Democratic Committee rules forbid the Democratic Party from participating. So, while the GOP gets a taxpayer-supported primary, the Democrats will have to pay for their own canvass, which will be held on March 11.

(In all likelihood, Democratic turnout will be low and nobody will notice who wins the state. The Dems recently announced they'll be voting on the Internet, in an effort to boost turnout, and relevance. Keep dreaming, guys.)

The Legislature, when laying out the rules for their GOP beauty pageant, made it very simple to get on the ballot. In states like New Hampshire (which regularly has hundreds of candidates on the presidential primary ballot), you have to collect signatures on a nominating form or at least pay a filing fee. But it's a lot simpler here in Arizona: you need only fill out a simple form, which we've reprinted here for your convenience. We're not sure they'll accept a copy on newsprint, so just to be on the safe side, we recommend you photocopy the form -- front and back pages -- before you fill it out, get it notorized and mail it to the Secretary of State's Office at 1700 W. Washington St., Seventh Floor, Phoenix, 85700. Get it in by 5 p.m. on January 13, 2000.

There are just a few simple requirements, established by the Founding Fathers: you must (1) be at least 35 years old, (2) have lived in the United States at least 14 years, and (3) be a natural-born citizen.

And, to land your name on the GOP primary, you have to be a Republican. If you're not, it's easy to change your registration. Just call the county recorder's office at 623-2649 for a list of convenient registration locations.

If you've got more questions about your eligibility, contact the Secretary of State's office toll-free at 1-877-843-8683.

Well, what are you waiting for? Get to work assembling that platform -- and best of luck to your campaign!

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