Last Thursday the Federal Election Commission instituted new policy cracking down on fake presidential candidates. The statement released by the FEC reads, in part:
“The Commission has authorized staff to send verification letters to filers listing fictional characters, obscene language, sexual references, celebrities (where there is no indication that the named celebrity submitted the filing), animals, or similarly implausible entries as the name or contact information of the candidate or committee.”
This would appear to end the prospective careers of potential political luminaries such as Deez Nuts, Captain Crunch and Limberbutt McCubbins. Questionable applications may now be subject to fines and other related procedures. The FEC says the change in filing procedure comes as a result of an increase in registrations and statements of candidacy from applicants who “appear to be unlawfully false or fictitious”. Over 1,200 people (and animals) have submitted the FEC forms to run for president in 2016, about three times as many who filed in 2012.
But why can’t you vote for Deez Nuts or any of the other “fake” candidates? At one point Deez Nuts was polling at 9%. He was soon passed by Captain Crunch. These fake candidates are sometimes more successful than the “real” candidates.
Many of these fake candidates aren’t actually eligible to be president (Deez Nuts is 15 years old, McCubbins is a cat) but who is the FEC to tell U.S. citizens for whom they may or may not cast a vote? Is it “throwing away” your vote? Sure, but why does that matter to the FEC? And is that any less true of a vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson? How about the candidacies of established politicians such as Lincoln Chafee or Rick Santorum? Nobody thought they would make it out of the primaries, much less become president, but people were allowed to support them. The Republican debates were split into the big boy and children’s table. But all the candidates were still included.
And rightfully so. If voting is an irrational act then it must be factors other than the ability of a candidate to win which determines a vote choice. Does it truly matter what that reason(s) may be? Every individual voter should be allowed to support that candidate they feel best represents their political preferences. Or, perhaps absent political preferences other considerations may suffice.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump don’t do it for numerous Americans. The suggestion that voters have to choose between the two is simply incorrect. Staying home is a perfectly viable and rational choice. Or, if you truly must vote for irrational reasons why not cast a vote for Deez Nuts or Captain Crunch? They’re surely more popular than Clinton or Trump.
If these fake candidates represented a modicum of possibility of effecting the results of the election their absence would be necessary. But they don’t, and they won’t. Eliminate those who are not eligible. Allow people to vote for whomever is left.