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Nobody For President, 1976
Who should you vote for in the next election? What about Nobody? After all, Nobody is clearly the best candidate. Nobody cares. Nobody keeps his election promises. Nobody listens to your concerns. Nobody tells the truth. Nobody will lower your taxes. Nobody will defend your rights. Nobody has all the answers. Nobody should have that much power. Nobody makes apple pie better than Mom. And Nobody will love you when you're down and out.

The joke of electing "Nobody" for President is an old one. It dates back at least to 1940, as seen by this political cartoon from that year featuring a protester waving a "Nobody For President" sign.

Nobody for President
Indiana Evening Gazette, Feb 21, 1940

Nobody for President
Arthur Hoppe
However, it was during the counterculture of the 1960s that the joke gained broader appeal. In 1964 the humor columnist Arthur Hoppe launched a satirical campaign to elect Nobody for President, pretending in a series of columns to be working at the Nobody for President campaign office. For example:

There's not a dry eye to be seen today down at Nobody for President Headquarters. It's the mail. Each new batch brings more moving and poignant letters from ordinary citizens everywhere. There can be no question that Nobody's campaign has struck a responsive chord in the hearts of the American voters.

... the mail shows our candidate has been able to accomplish a unique feat in the history of politics: he's not only promised to solve insoluble problems; he's solved them. Take this joyous note from Mrs. Please-Don't-Use-My-Name: "Our marriage was on the rocks. Every election, whatever candidate I was for, my husband was against. And vice versa. We both knew we couldn't survive another hard-fought campaign. But now, we sit at breakfast table and smile fondly at each other, both proudly wearing our 'Nobody for President' buttons."

... Is it any wonder, then, that as we open the mail our chins lift, our eyes grow moist, our hearts swell up? What do we care about issues and controversies? For the blind faith which all campign workers have in their leader is at last being shared by the great American public. Or, as Anonymous Businessman said in the note accompanying the anonymous check he generously contributed: "Nobody is worth a hill of beans." (Long Beach Press-Telegram, May 28, 1964.)


The Nobody for President movement was also seen beyond Hoppe's column. An Associated Press journalist, reporting from the July 1964 Republican National Convention at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, noted that, "A blue and white button appearing on numerous lapels and shirt fronts proposes 'Nobody for President.'" (Logansport Press, July 9, 1964)

Hoppe continued his satirical Nobody for President campaign in his column in 1968.

The Birthday Party
A Nobody for President campaign achieved greater prominence in 1976 when political activists Wavy Gravy and Curtis Sprangler took up Nobody's cause. Wavy Gravy had earlier conducted a mock campaign to elect a rock as president. Its running mate was a dinner roll, so the campaign slogan was "Rock and Roll Forever".

Nobody for President
Nobody For President bumper sticker

Their promotion of Nobody evolved over the course of 1976 and culminated in October with a cross-country tour to promote him. They described Nobody as the candidate of the Birthday Party. Spangler appointed himself "Nobody's Campaign Manager" and Wavy Gravy served as "Nobody's Fool".

Nobody for President
The cross-country tour launched on October 12, 1976 with a rally at San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza. A crowd gathered before a stage decorated with banners sporting slogans such as, ""Nobody loves the poor" and "Nobody will end the war". Music was played, including the songs "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen" and "Nobody knows you when you're down and out".

The high point of the rally was when Wavy Gravy (who wore clown makeup, a blue track suit, and a propellor cap) announced, "The Nobody motorcade has just been spotted. Nobody is headed this way." A sportscar then drove up with a bunting-festooned wooden chair mounted on its trunk. Nobody was sitting in it.

Nobody, represented by a pair of plastic, wind-up teeth that Wavy Gravy placed before a microphone, then addressed the crowd. The teeth chattered away as people asked it questions about domestic and foreign policy.

Nobody for President
Following the San Francisco rally, the Nobody campaigners took off across country in a Nobody bus. They held rallies in Los Angeles, Albuquerque, Austin, Washington, and ended up in New York City, where they held a victory celebration on election day, November 2. They pointed out that since 43% of all eligible voters had voted for Nobody, Nobody clearly won the election. During the celebration a police officer asked the crowd who was in charge. "Nobody," they all yelled back.

Spangler and Wavy Gravy repeated the Nobody for President campaign in 1980 and 1984. Their campaign continues at nobodyforpresident.org, where they point out that the campaign has a serious side by promoting the idea that Nobody (or "None of the Above") should be included as an option on all ballots so that voters wouldn't be forced to choose between the lesser of two evils.
PoliticalSatirical CandidatesHoaxes of the 1970s


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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.