Proof positive that it’s not only the United States that’s sick of its politicians. In a move that highly perturbed some and amused others, the state of Sao Paolo in Brazil has elected an actual clown to be its congressman, MSNBC.com reports.
Tiririca, whose real name is Francisco Everardo Oliveira Silva, was elected to the congressional post this past Sunday after garnering 1.3 million votes, nearly double that of his closest opponent. Tiririca ran on the slogan, “It can’t get any worse,” and issued the novel promise to do absolutely nothing in Congress except report back to his constituents about what the other congressmen actually do with their legislative day.
Though most saw Tiririca’s run as a joke, there are some real benefits to his win for other members of his coalition. With such a large win, he can give his excess votes to other candidates, possibly influencing the outcome of other elections.
It remains to be seen how Tiririca’s tenure as a politician goes, but here in the U.S. we have a semi-habit of electing celebrities to political posts. The most famous is probably former president Ronald Reagan, who was a Hollywood movie actor for years before seeking any political office. But others have followed in his shoes since.
The most obvious example is the current Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was elected as a Republican in 2003 after the recall of highly unpopular incumbent Gray Davis. He served a partial first term before being re-elected for a full second term in 2006. It was a celebrity-heavy first race, as Fox News reported that “Diff’rent Strokes” actor Gary Coleman and political commentator Arianna Huffington also initially announced plans to run, but were beaten out by Schwarzenegger.
Former pro-wrestler Jesse “The Body” Ventura successfully ran for Governor of Minnesota as a member of the Reform Party, winning on his first try in 1998. He memorably published several books, some while in office, including “I Ain’t Got Time to Bleed” and “Do I Stand Alone?,” according to his biography on Info Please. Although he didn’t run for reelection, he still shows up from time to time as a political commentator, and had a show on MSNBC for a short time in 2003.
Most recently, former SNL comedian, writer, and radio personality Al Franken won a hard-fought battle to be one of Minnesota’s Senators. The race was a memorable one for the tenacity of challenger Norm Coleman, who took his suit all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court in an effort to keep a celebrity out of office. After a recount and several legal challenges, Politico and others reported that Franken eventually won the seat by just 312 votes out of the 2.9 million that Minnesota voters cast.
While these other races mentioned were supposed to be serious, Tiririca made no such claims to the citizens of Sao Paolo, so expectations for his run are rather different. Even so, it makes for interesting copy, and Tiririca’s tenure will bring a lot of controversy and scrutiny to the Brazilian congress in the months to come, especially if he holds to his campaign’s promise of congressional reports.
InfoPlease.com, “Jesse Ventura Biography.”
Thomson Reuters, “No Joke! Illiterate clown triumphs in election.” MSNBC.com
Vincent Bevins, “Brazilian clown laughs all the way to the legislature.” FinancialTimes.com
Adam Housley and Jane Roh, “Schwarzenegger to run in California recall race.” FoxNews.com
Manu Raju and Josh Kraushaar, “Norm Coleman concedes Minnesota Senate race to Al Franken.” Politico.com