Enter Vermin Supreme, the “friendly fascist” with a boot-hat, whose platform pretty much amounts to “ponies, fuck yeah!” and zombie-preparedness.
McMillan and Supreme will duke it out at 8:30 this evening in the Groundhog Day Presidential Debate, an online forum where viewers can appear onscreen and ask questions.
Michael Knowles, who used to be the youth co-chair for Jon Huntsman’s belly-up campaign, organized the meeting, and bills it as the “showdown of the century.” (Obvs.)
“They’re debating these important issues,” Knowles, who heads Yale’s Republican group, tells Runnin’ Scared. “Should people get a free pony or get low rent?”
So in the spirit of political fairness, Runnin’ Scared tracked down Vermin Supreme, who was hot on the campaign trail. The Baltimore native and Massachusetts resident says he got into politics because he “had nothing better to do.” (Hey, there’s something to be said for honesty.) He chats with us about his grand plans to rescue the nation from decline, but he’s still not sure if his presidential run is an actual presidential run.
Runnin’ Scared: How long have you been involved in politics?
Vermin Supreme: I’m generally recognized as the quadrennial candidate for the presidency since 1992, or maybe 1988. I’ve been running for a very long time, and I’m just trying to make America a better place.
RS: A lot of politicians say that — what’s your actual plan?
VS: My platform, of course, is mandatory toothbrushing laws, time-travel research, free ponies for all Americans, and, of course, zombie preparedness.
RS: How did you get into politics?
VS: You might call me a dilettante or a dabbler. Around 1988, I was living in Baltimore, and I had nothing better to do, so I declared my candidacy for mayor.
RS: You say you’re a friendly fascist — but do you run under a particular political party?
VS: During the primaries, I generally run under a party affiliation. In 2004, I ran as a Democrat. In 2008, I was on the Republican ticket in New Hampshire. In 2012, I ran as a Democrat in New Hampshire. I’m a little bit of a dyno, I’m a little bit of a rhino. I’m flying a flag of convenience for either purpose. I can’t say I’m really aligned with either party.
RS: What do you think about tonight’s debate?
VS: I’d say it’s a battle of the memes. He’s a meme. I’m a meme, and only one meme can really be president, I think. And my rent isn’t too high, really, and I think he might want a free pony himself. He’s got some pretty distinct facial hair, I’ve got some myself. I think we’re the two most bushy-faced presidential candidates I’ve heard of. And I think that we’re the only candidates who are memes on the Internet.
RS: Is that how you see yourself — simply as a meme, not really as a candidate?
VS: That is a very good question. That is a question that will ultimately be decided by the Federal Election Commission advisory comittee. I am presently seeking a decision on that particular issue. So for the purposes of my Federal Election Commission compliance, let us say that it’s purely performance. Now, of course, many people accept that fact. Of course I say that I’m running. Now, am I really running? It’s very hard to say.
RS: So is this some sort of meta performance art on meta performance art? Explain.
VS: Yes, I’m presenting a character whose name that I share. The presentation of the ridiculous proposals that I am presenting as ridiculous proposals. So it’s very difficult to say. My campaign straddles dimensions, straddles universes. It’s real and unreal simultaneously. It exists in real time and in real space. I inhabit the space, and other times it’s an abstraction. I guess it really all depends on who you ask.
RS: Aesthetics aside, you’ve just recently been propelled to fame despite a decades-long political career. Why is that?
VS: I have been running for over 25 years. I’ve never been a meme until very recently. The meme thing just kind of exploded on me during my last campaign. The development of digital media seems to have a lot to do with it, and the political situation we find ourselves in. There’s a lot of dissolusion and mistrust, yet the Republicans can’t seem to put forth a real candidate.
RS: Any last thoughts?
VS: “I’m going to wipe the floor with Jimmy McMillan,” he said in his best professional wrestling agitated voice.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 2, 2012