My First Campaign
NEW ORLEANS — The 1984 U.S. presidential election will offer voters a clear choice, now that the anonymous and mysterious captain-for-life of the Spontaneous Krewe of Platefaces has entered the race.
“All of the previously announced candidates — Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Socialist — are on the same side of the issues,” declares Meal Ticket candidate John Smith, founder of the Crescent City’s cheapest carnival krewe, in explaining his decision to seek the presidency. “Take nuclear war, for instance. They’re all against it. They may differ as to the best way to prevent it, but their fundamental opposition to it is unanimous.
“That’s where I come in,” says Smith. “I’m the only announced candidate for president of the United States who’s in favor of nuclear war. . . .”
Smith has refused to discuss any other issues, insisting that a nuclear conflict would solve everything. — Spontaneous Krewe of Platefaces press release, Mardi Gras 1984
As you know, I ran for president, unsuccessfully, last year. I only campaigned for one week, right at the very end; but, still, it was a heartbreaking loss, bringing back bitter memories of my earlier rout, when I ran against Ronald Reagan, and whoever the Democratic candidate was, 25 years ago.
In 1984, as the only candidate in favor of nuclear war, I just knew I had a winning issue. My position was well thought out, too. You see, my 14-point platform was based on an article I’d written in 1982, titled, with a tip of the hat to Johnathan Swift, “A Humble Suggestion.” It concluded as follows:
[T]he effects of nuclear war are likely to be wholly beneficial, as have been the effects of all previous wars, if truth be told. Along with visits to the dentist, schooling, marriage, divorce, and tax payments, war must be ranked with those much maligned experiences in life that benefit us in direct proportion as they seem to hurt. — “A Humble Suggestion,” F.R. Duplantier, 1982
The fact that I’d been unable to get the article published over the course of two years had not undermined my confidence in it. Sure, it had been repeatedly rejected, but the rejections had come from some of the best periodicals in the country. And the explanations of the editors seemed quite reasonable: some didn’t “get” it, and some were afraid their readers wouldn’t get it. There were quite a few, however, who, though unable to use it themselves, enthusiastically recommended sending it to their rivals.
I may have lost the race for president in 1984, but I did manage to get “A Humble Suggestion” published, twice, a couple of years later: first in an obscure libertarian newsletter called The Pragmatist, and then in an even more obscure satritical newsletter called Pedantic Monthly. Had the editors found my manuscript irresistible, or had they merely been enthralled by my status as a former presidential candidate? I hadn’t the heart to ask.