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.
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- 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
- Byrnes, Sholto. "Bizarre political parties: The Boston Tea Party." New Statesman. Oct. 23, 2006. (July 19, 2012) http://www.newstatesman.com/node/154627
- Federal Election Commission. "Key to Abbreviations of Party Names and Identifying Labels." ProCon.org. 2008. (July 19, 2012) http://2012election.procon.org/sourcefiles/2008party_lables.pdf
- Iacobbo, Karen and Iacobbo, Michael. "Vegetarian America: A History." Greenwood Publishing Group. April 30, 2004. (July 19, 2012) http://books.google.com/books?id=0AiAz62C_jcC&dq=american+vegetarian+symon+gould&source=gbs_navlinks_s
- Jones, Jeffrey M. "Little Support for Third-Party Candidates in 2012 Election." Gallup. July 06, 2012. (July 19, 2012) http://www.gallup.com/poll/155537/little-support-third-party-candidates-2012-election.aspx
- Kettmann, Steve. "New Politics, Ahoy!" The New York Times. May 01, 2012. (July 19, 2012) http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/02/opinion/the-pirate-party-logs-a-new-politics.html?_r=2
- Leighton, Kyle. "Why Americans Elect Crashed and Burned." Talking Points Memo. May 21, 2012. (July 19, 2012) http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/05/american-elect-third-party.php
- NPR. "Remembering Gracie Allen's White House Run." Radio Diaries. Nov. 04, 2008. (July 19, 2012) http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=96588557
- Objectivist Party. "Statement of Principles." (July 19, 2012) http://www.objectivistparty.us/6401.html
- Pearson, Will. "Will the American Vegetarian Party return with sex appeal?" Mental Floss. April 28, 2006. (July 19, 2012) http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/100
- Pirate Parties International. "About the PPI." (July 19, 2012) http://www.pp-international.net/about
- Rand, Ayn. "Introducing Objectivism." Ayn Rand Institute. (July 19, 2012) http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=objectivism_intro
- Santillano, Vicki. "Politics as Unusual: Six Strange U.S. Political Parties." Divine Caroline. November 2010. (July 19, 2012) http://www.divinecaroline.com/22354/106379-politics-unusual-six-strange-u-s
- TIME. "Political Notes: No Meat, No Drink." Aug. 11, 1947. (July 19, 2012) http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,887497,00.html
HowStuffWorks examines a study showing that female politicians less likely to be corrupt than male politicians.