Interview by Chad Parenteau
For nearly three decades, political activist and performance artist Vermin Supreme has run for numerous unique positions (including Mayor of America and Emperor of the New Millennium) while running as an independent candidate in presidential races under both major political parties. He runs with the platform of Machiavellian dentistry practices for a clean America. It’s easy to understand why he can be described as both “fascist” and “anarchist” in the same news article. His attention in alternative and mainstream media outlets eventually led to the documentary Who Is Vermin Supreme? An Outsider Odyssey (available for purchase here.) 2020 marked the first time he ran under the Libertarian party, winning the Libertarian Presidential Preference Primaries in Massachusetts and New Hampshire before dropping out.
When photos of Jake Angeli the “QAnon Shaman” started circulating after the January 6insurrection, did you ever stop to wonder if you were being ripped off?
There was a two panel meme circulating at that time that summed it up rather nicely.
The first panel was me, Vermin Supreme with the caption, “What I ordered from Wish.com”
The second panel was Jake the Qanon shaman, with the caption, “What I got.”
I suspect in any given subculture there is probably some mushroom addled hippie kids going through some ‘shaman’ phase and dressing up like some mutant magic mountainman.
It seems the radical alt-right has stolen everything from the left and twisted it, from protests under the pretense of “fun” to contesting elections. What could anyone possibly steal from the lunatic fringe and use against them?
I’ve always felt myself, to be a chaotic good or at least chaotic neutral.
These other fuckers have no qualms about being chaotic evil.
Of course I don’t think Eris really cares one way or another.
They may be terrible people but they are not stupid.
The four channelfication of politics is a fucking cottage industry.
The trolling and disinformation has reached frightening heights.
The level of nihilism expressed is terrible.
The willingness to engage in unethical behavior is frightening.
It is clear that it is not just for the lulz.
I will say the ends justifying the means, and being a vicious wrecking ball just does not seem to be a worthwhile attitude to adopt in order to ‘pwn’ anyone.
You were part of the Libertarian Party’s 2020 primaries. How did you view that campaign from all the others? Do you plan to run as Libertarian again, or will you switch things up?
My 2020 run was unlike anything I had ever previously undertaken.
How I even got to the point of working with ancaps and libertarians, as a left based anarchist, was a journey itself.
It was a camPain with a very different purpose, to achieve the nomination. It was an incredibly complex project. Attempting to convince delegates that I was the best person to front the ticket was very different than being a goofball for lulz.
My thirty years of activism, and ten years as meme gave me a platform, reach, political good will and a level of notoriety as a political satirist , that I was able to make a legitimate offer of my services as a candidate to the LP.
I was indeed recruited for the role and had a camPain staff of almost one hundred people doing various things at various points.
Supporters freely gave over 80,000 dollars to my camPain, ( more than I spent on 30 years of pretend camPains combined!)
I spent every weekend for several months, two years running, traveling the country, attending state Libertarian conventions, schmoozing and glad handing. I participated in an endless series of presidential wannabe debates.
I had to develop a whole new communication system. I tacked to the right.
I practically developed a new character if you will, Serious Libertarian Vermin.
I empowered others to write satirical platform bits for press releases and social media.
I had a speech writer for more formal occasions.
These were totally new things.
It was an uphill battle.
Many thought I was making fun of the LP and that my presence in the party and the race was a detriment.
We used the #InOnTheJoke concept as a strategy to help convince potential delegates that it actually made sense and that the LP could put up a perceived joke candidate and not be dismissed as a joke party.
Of course any time you have to explain a joke it becomes a little less funny.
It should be noted that I messaged heavily around the issues of mutual aid, compassion, and empathy in addition to all the usual libertarian BS. It was an attempted culture shift.
At the nominating convention, we use ranked choice voting. I survived till the fourth round, receiving 20% of the delegates votes, coming in third. That means 200 out of 1000 delegates agreed with the premise that a wacky Vermin Supreme candidacy was a desirable and feasible way to propel the party forward.
On some levels it was wildly successful. We changed hearts and minds.
Many who opposed us came around to join us.
I suspect my 2024 run will also be nominally with the LP.
I also suspect I will be mixing things up as the dynamics of that race will be very different.
I know you’ve been busy online this past year. Did you attend any demonstrations that took place amidst the pandemic? What would you like your first crowd related event to be when or if this ends?
As a kid I was practically a professional protester.
Over the years I’ve sort settled into a quadrennial pattern around the prez elections.
That puts me at the NH primary, the R and D national convention, and the inauguration.
In addition if there as anything local or national that seems important I might try and be there.
Straight Pride was the last full throttle protest I wrangled.
I did not attend any events during the pandemic year.
I did, of course follow and promote the BLM protests with great interest.
I would love to do some more college and bar tours.
I would love to get back into the streets.
We shall see what happens.
I remember photos from 2000 of you and John McCain shaking hands. Now it seems moredangerous than ever to interact with Trumpers, QAnon supporters and even certain candidates.Does it seem like you can’t go back to your old ways of working the streets and other politicians?
I was lucky that when I became a meme in 2012, my pony/zombie/teeth/time travel dentalfesto and glitterbombing was generally perceived to be a non partisan critique of the whole shebang. As such it was embraced across the political spectrum giving me a fan base spanning far left to far right.
Now I think that is true of any ‘celebrity’, but me being a nominal political figure it is more noticeable.
In 2016, on my way to a college gig at Carnegie Mellon, we encountered a Hillary Clinton rally.
Off to the side there was a Trump table with 15 0r so college Republican kids hanging.
Next to them was a group of about 25 Antifa kids hanging. It was pretty chill, although it had the potential for tension. When I rolled up there was much excitement from both camps that were very happy to see me.
It seems as if tho I am treated as a pop culture figure as opposed to a culture war figure.
So I receive a lot less animosity than some activists. (Rod Webber, I’m looking at you. lol)
Free-style question: What do you really want?
I really want to alleviate human suffering and offer hope to the hopeless.
Did I mention I have an institute? We put the word institute after my name.
Our mission statement: “Our purpose is to inspire social evolution through the disruption of authoritarianism, to promote compassionate activism, and to spread knowledge of redacted history.
“Through the use of humor, direct action, and mutual aid, we uplift the disaffected, disenfranchised, and disempowered.”
Sometimes we institute stuff. We’ve done a few homeless outreach projects and we run a food pantry out of a garage in Dallas. You know stuff like that. Check us out.