Mighty Fallen

Having been spurned in her presidential aspirations by the Green Party, comedian/activist/macadamia farmer Roseanne Barr has announced she will run for president on the ticket of the venerable Peace and Freedom Party, which in 2008 was only on the ballot in California (its long-time base) and in Iowa.

P&F first achieved national attention in 1968, when its presidential candidate was Black Panther author and celebrity Eldridge Cleaver. But it first ran candidates in 1966; interestingly enough, its candidate for a New York congressional district was Herbert Aptheker, the long-time “theoretician” of the Communist Party USA. Their New York conventions must have been a hoot: alongside Marxists like Aptheker were a smattering of libertarians, including famed economist Murray Rothbard.

Aside from Cleaver, the most famous P&F presidential candidates were probably Dr. Benjamin Spock (1972), Native American activist Leonard Peltier (2004) and Ralph Nader (2008).

In her own announcement, Barr indicated that her running-mate would be a woman whose name might ring a bell: Cindy Sheehan, who had a brief burst of national fame in the mid-2000s as the Gold Star Mother who led a number of anti-Iraq-War protests. Last time I personally remember seeing Sheehan was early on Georgia Primary Night in 2006, when she was dancing the Electric Slide with Rep. Cynthia McKinney at the fiery congresswoman’s election night watch party. McKinney went on to lose her seat (for the second time in three cycles) that night.

Despite its limited ballot reach, I’d guess the Barr-Sheehan ticket will get some attention, particularly if the presidential nominee opens her own checkbook. If nothing else, the celebrity ticket should generate enough support in uncontested California to retain P&F’s official status there, though the new “top two” primary system in the state has reduced these “minor parties” to museum pieces. Best of all, the P&F candidates can be counted on to loudly challenge GOP references to Democrats as “socialists.” They know better.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.