What the 'Deez Nuts' candidacy says about the state of US democracy

A 15-year old from Iowa is fighting to change America’s political system with some laughs. 

Andrew Harnik/AP
President Barack Obama speaks about his Clean Power Plan, Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, in the East Room at the White House in Washington.

The 2016 presidential election has 586 registered candidates so far, including some peculiar names like Sydneys Voluptuous Buttocks (independent), Buddy The Cat (Democrat), and Bailey D Dog (independent). Yet only one dark-horse, independent candidate has spurred international attention overnight: Deez Nuts. 

Brady Olson, a 15-year old sophomore from the small town of Wallingford, Iowa, filed for presidency with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on July 26, 2015 under the cheeky moniker Deez Nuts. After hearing about Limberbutt McCubbins, a Kentucky “Demo-cat” joke candidate that filed for presidency last month, Mr. Olson told The Daily Beast he realized he could do the same.
Olson then asked the folks at Public Policy Polling (PPP) if they could pit Mr. “Nuts” against other candidates to see if surveyors would seriously consider his campaign.

Surprisingly, in polling he received 7 percent of votes in Iowa, 8 percent in Minnesota, and on Wednesday, his numbers rose to 9 percent in a North Carolina poll against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, making him the most successful independent candidate for president in two decades, reports The Guardian. 

“The next step is to get some party nominations, like the Minnesota Independence Party or the Modern Whig Party,” Olson told The Daily Beast. “It would also be great to find a VP, preferably McCubbins because the Nuts/McCubbins ticket sounds amazing.”

While Nuts’ presidential bid could cause some good laughs, it also raises questions about the country’s political system, starting with its presidential candidacy filing process. 

When Rolling Stone magazine asked Olson what made him believe he could be qualified for president, he referred to the fact that he could “fill out a form so vague that it doesn't include your age, or the fact that all get accepted even if they're only partially filled.”

Anybody can fill out a candidacy statement known as Form 2, says FEC deputy press officer Christian Hilland. “We do vetting, but it’s more about did they fill out the information correctly? Did they review the fields? It doesn’t speak to the authenticity of the individual who filed the claim,” Hilland told The Daily Beast. 

Nuts’s form only included a fictitious address in Wallingford and his Independent party affiliation – enough information to place him in the race, even though he’d have to wait 20 years before he can legally become president.  

“We check for things like, ‘What election cycle are you running in?’ If one or more of those fields are missing, we have campaign finance analysts who review those reports,” Mr. Hilland says. “We send a letter to the listed address that asks for clarification or an amendment.”

Once “Nuts” gained some traction in the race, he announced the political party nominations he’s considering running for in his manifesto, including the Justice Party, the “Marijuana Party,” and the “Rent Is Too Damn High Party.” 

He also supports same-sex marriage, condemns illegal immigration and is in favor of the Iran deal. “I support the work that John Kerry and the State Department did with the Iran nuclear deal, considering it took nearly two years to reach this point,” his platform reads.

But all jokes aside, Olson’s comedic bid comes from some sincere concerns, mainly his frustration with the front-runners and his desire to “break the two-party system.” And while he may have no chance of winning, support for his campaign shows that many other Americans are also seeking an alternative to the two main parties.

“You could call [the third party candidate] anything and they would get their 7% or 8%,” Jim Williams, a polling analyst at PPP who conducted the North Carolina poll, told The Guardian.  

“I really didn't want to see Clinton, Bush, or Trump in the White House,” Olson told Rolling Stone magazine, “so I guess I'm just trying to put up a fight.” 

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