Shakespeare wrote, "What's in a name?" If you're a third party candidate, apparently a lot. America's history is filled with political parties whose names have earned them a spot on the national stage.
During Monday evening's New York gubernatorial debate, much of the world was introduced for the first time to Jimmy McMillan, a third party candidate for governor of New York. The platform of his party, "The Rent Is Too Damn High Party," is nothing if not self-explanatory. Rent in New York City is too high - "too damn high," to be specific. The party also put forth mayoral candidates in both 2005 and 2009.
In 2003 the Guns & Dope party gained national attention. If you enjoy aiming high or getting high or simply have your head in the sand, the Guns & Dope Party could meet your needs. According to their website they advocate "guns for those who want them, no guns forced on those who don't want them," as well as, "drugs for those who want them, no drugs forced on those who don't want them." Created by writer, philosopher and/or comic Robert Anton Wilson during his run for California governor during the special midterm recall election of 2003, this party also advocates for replacing one-third of Congress with ostriches. The ideology is reportedly based on Wilson's insight that every ostrich is a tsar and every person has the right to govern himself or herself.
Arguably, one of the most creatively named parties was the Surprise Party. The short lived run of this political party, albeit a publicity stunt, was a welcome relief for many during the Great Depression. Comedian Gracie Allen, wife of George Burns, launched her run for President in 1940 on the Surprise Party ticket. The party's mascot was a kangaroo and their campaign slogan was appropriately, "It's in the bag." Allen and Burns went so far as to embark on a nationwide whistle stop tour chronicled in William Carroll's book, "Gracie Allen for President 1940." Perhaps the biggest surprise for the Surprise Party were the 42,000 write-in votes Gracie Allen reportedly received in the general election.
Possibly among the most misunderstood is the United States Pirate Party. "X" doesn't exactly mark the spot for the Pirate Party. Put away your eye patches and parrots, this party, which emerged in 2006, sets out to reform intellectual and property laws. Favoring the rights of the public over those of entertainment conglomerates, the party is patterned after Piratpartiet, a Swedish political party. You will have to look elsewhere for a party supporting sunken treasures and walking the plank.
The list continues on and on with the likes of the American Vegetarian Party, OWL Party, Marijuana Party, etc. There's a party for every interest and a lid for every pot. One thing is for sure, with midterm elections only weeks away, no interest is too extreme and no platform too ridiculous to garner the support of an American public increasingly disillusioned by their parties of choice. Perhaps the iconic Lesley Gore said it best, "It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to."