5 Strangest Political Parties


The Surprise Party

In 1940, comedienne Gracie Allen made a fake run for president but enjoyed very real success with the public.
In 1940, comedienne Gracie Allen made a fake run for president but enjoyed very real success with the public.
Harold Clements/Getty Images

Perhaps the strangest thing about the 1940 Surprise Party was its almost instant success. Long before comedian Stephen Colbert would launch his faux run for president, comic Gracie Allen announced her intention to become America's first female president on her radio show "The Burns and Allen Show," which she co-hosted with George Burns. The bit was merely a gimmick to drum up press for the comedy duo, but listeners took her announcement seriously and were overwhelmingly supportive of Allen's Surprise Party ticket. In response, Allen embarked on a railroad tour from Los Angeles to Omaha, delivering stump speeches to impressive crowds along the way [source: NPR]. Even after she bowed out of the race, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt easily won his third term, Allen still received thousands of write-in votes.

Author's Note: 5 Strangest Political Parties

In modern American politics, third parties often get the runaround from the public, it seems. Fed up with "politics as usual," people plead for a non-establishment option at the polls, but as Election Day approaches, voters tend to cast their ballot for a major party. My armchair theory for why third parties have such a difficult time converting voters is because of the mentality that they have no chance of winning, and therefore a third party vote is a throwaway. Moreover, the more bizarre and extremist parties that have cropped up throughout American electoral history have somewhat sullied the third party name. But you still have to hand it to these unconventional political groups for rallying for a specific cause -- save those like the American Nazi Party that are patently racist -- and bucking the majority, even though their chances of victory are slim to none.

Related Articles


  • Ayn Rand Lexicon. "Politics." Ayn Rand Institute. (July 19, 2012) http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/politics.html
  • Bogart, Rachel. "Top 10 Weirdest Political Parties in the U.S." YahooVoices. Nov. 04, 2007. (July 19, 2012) http://voices.yahoo.com/top-10-weirdest-political-parties-us-638586.html?cat=9
  • The Boston Tea Party. "Platform of the Boston Tea Party." (July 19, 2012) http://bostontea.us/platform
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