Campaign 2000: The Elvis National Party, Part II: Elvis Party Holds Convention, Nominates Elvis for President
[Redactor's Note: This is the second in an ongoing series of pieces dedicated to a lesser-known political faction participating in this year's campaign. If you have not done so, you may wish to read the previous installment: Part I.]
MIAMI, FL — The theme of this year's Elvis National Party Convention was diversity, and convention organizers wanted to make sure that people knew it. As soon as delegates, party faithful, and the press corps entered the Miami Civic Convention Center, they were greeted by a red, white, and blue sequined banner covering one full side of the arboretum: "Representational Diversity Through Elvis."
"For too long now, the Elvis party has been seen as the party of white, middle class, cape-wearing men. The fact is that we have a party membership that crosses all racial and gender boundaries, all ethnic categories, all economic strata. Our [East] Indian [Elvis impersonator] friends are living proof of that!" said Elvis National Party President, Redd Jones, referring to the Singing Hindi Elvises from Calcutta, one of several ethnically diverse groups performing at this year's convention. "The Elvis party strives to bring to elected representation the diversity, tolerance, and love that Elvis himself would bring if he were still with us. This convention is really about showing that to the world."
Indeed, Elvis party members of all descriptions wandered the convention floor, and although they clustered into state delegations or special interest groups within the party, the general mood was warm and welcoming. Credit for the high spirits was largely given to Elvis Jerome Presley, nephew of Elvis Aron Presley and Elvis party candidate for president. "Sure there are differences in opinions, there always will be," said Elroy Shepherd, delegate from Texas and head of the Christian Elvis faction as he draped his flared-silk-sleeved arm around Erin Castro, Vermont delegate and leader of the New Elvis Gay and Lesbian Coalition, "but what holds us all together is that we believe that the election of Elvis Jerome Presley is this country's surest path to a better tomorrow. Everything else is secondary." As if to emphasize this point, Shepherd and Castro then embraced, laughing as the shiny, styled waves of black hair above their heads collided.
Some convention-goers expressed a small degree of apprehension when asked about Presley's campaign to date. Though none would go on record, more that one delegate spoke of the candidate's speaking style as being too flamboyant. "The American public wants an entertaining speaker, but sometimes Elvis pushes too hard. I think he worries that the country doesn't take him seriously as an intellectual," said one Elvis impersonator from Florida. "Like a few months ago when he claimed to have invented butter. That will haunt him for a while."
A special video presentation opened the convention, full of the American imagery and fanfare that the public has come to expect from national political conventions. The only surprise was a very well-received prerecorded speech by former English Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Although she said her nationality and public position prevented her from openly endorsing any candidate on political grounds, she said she felt qualified to speak on Presley's character and accomplishments. "When, in the fall of 1986, Mr. Presley was first introduced to me as America's ambassador to Great Britain, I must say that I was somewhat taken aback. Those in the diplomatic corps rarely display as much chest hair as our dear Mr. Presley did. But what he was able to accomplish in his six brief years of service shocked us all. I dare say that his service in negotiating with Libya for the transfer of those responsible for the PANAM flight 103 terrorist bombing shall be remembered in the halls of Parliament and on the streets of Locherby for decades to come."
The carefully orchestrated high point of the conference was the nomination speech given by longtime Presley confidante, Las Vegas City Council Member, Lance "Elvis" Knapp. "What we are about to do, we do not for our sakes. We seek not to glorify ourselves. We seek not to gain power and position for our party. We look toward the future, a future made bright by the leadership of Elvis Jerome Presley, our next President of the United States of America!"
Presley made a boisterous and triumphant acceptance speech, something many analysts insisted was necessary to define him as an individual. He promised that if elected, he would "clean out the pantry," and "fight, fight, fight, fight, f-i-g-h-t, like Elvis did when he earned his second-degree black belt in 1963, like Elvis did when he earned his fifth-degree black belt in 1971, like Elvis did when he won his eighth-degree black belt in 1974, like I will for the American people starting in 2001!"
Presley is now caught in the awkward position of trying to remove himself from the shadow of his uncle without distancing himself too far from the party platform and the successes of the past. One delegate from Hawaii thought he did just that. "I thought he gave a great speech. Sure, we'd all vote for the King if we could, but we can't, and Elvis Jerome is the best way to continue Elvis Aron's legacy." Indeed it may be that only by building on the legacy of the past that Elvis Jerome Presley will be able to preserve a legacy of his own.
[Continue to Part III.]