The 2016 election cycle is only a few months old, and already everyone is exhausted with the backstabbing antics, the offensive one-liners, and the tired partisan talking points. Thankfully, one "candidate" is ready to provide a little comedic fodder to break up the field (no, it's not Donald Trump). On Monday, satirical candidate "Honest" Gil Fulbright announced he was entering the presidential race in order to set the political world straight and provide a more realistic (albeit fake) primary option. Fundraising through Indiegogo, Fulbright, who is portrayed by actor and opera singer Frank Ridley, promised to "make promises" and "openly take any position on any issue in exchange for a large political contribution."
"We're running Gil in the most expensive presidential election in U.S. history to make sure America’s corruption crisis is the #1 issue for the entire 2016 race," wrote the campaign, which is run by the non-partisan group Represent.us. "With your help, Honest Gil will not only get the country talking about corruption, he'll get thousands more people involved with the growing movement to fix it."
So far, Fulbright's presidential platform seems to be "Stuff America Full of Jobs" and "Not Do A Whole Lot" about healthcare, in addition to taking money from donors.
The campaign itself aims to raise at least $50,000 — which, according to the staff of Represent.us, will be used to create more videos and bring attention to the more serious problem of political corruption in Washington. "Honest Gil represents an opportunity to bring an unprecedented level of national attention to our issue," the team explained on its Indiegogo website.
It's the second time that the masterminds at Represent.us have attempted to shed light on the topic by employing Fulbright. In 2014, he ran a fake campaign for a U.S. Senate seat in Kentucky as a satirical option to Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes and Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell, and managed to rake in nearly $115,000 in donations.
"The race between McConnell and Grimes ... cost an unprecedented $100 million [and] over three quarters of both candidates' money [came] from outside of Kentucky," wrote the Represent.us team in 2014. "When it costs that much to win an election, the candidates become dependent on their funders, not on the people they're supposed to represent [and] as a result, the issues that matter to the people go unsolved."
The campaign did exactly what it was supposed to do and more. According to official numbers, the official 2014 Senate ads were viewed over 10 million times, and were featured on behemoth networks like CNN, Fox News and BBC Radio. The campaign also helped fuel serious discussion behind eight anti-corruption bills (which were later passed) across several states.
But the presidential election is a much bigger game than a Senate race, and with characters like Donald Trump already taking up much of the airwaves, there might not be as much room for Fulbright to grow his satirical platform. (Seriously, aren't Trump's stances satirical enough already?)
Still, that doesn't mean that Fulbright is out of luck — with a large portion of the voter base growing weary of Trump's antics and the remainder of the field beginning to dissipate as well, there's a good chance that Honest Gil's message could stick with otherwise uninterested groups.
"Gil's campaign struck a nerve with Americans of every political stripe [in 2014]," Represent.us Director Joshua Graham Lynn told Mashable last August. By displaying their ads strategically, where the group knew the majority of undecided voters might see them, Represent.us had "the opportunity to reach new people while they're already thinking about politics."