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/ February 18, 2011
Rent Is Too Damn High Party Leader Jimmy McMillan Speaks To NYU College Republicans

“I’m not going to fight your fight. I’m a karate expert.”

“Daddy gotta do what Daddy got to do [when] you can’t afford to live here, [and] you can’t afford to buy that. It’s easy to talk to you cuz you like my kids.”

Welcome to the slapstick rhetoric of 64-year-old New Yorker Jimmy McMillan.

Former Mayoral and Gubernatorial candidate and now presidential hopeful Jimmy McMillan of the Rent is Too Damn High party descended on a large gathering of NYU Republicans last night. From his arrival at Kimmel to his departure, McMillan was surrounded by groups of excited college students who eagerly posed for pictures with America’s latest YouTube sensation politician.

But such enthusiasm may not win him the presidency. Let’s attempt to take him seriously for a moment:

McMillan holds conservative positions on issues such as global warming and eliminating the national debt, but he breaks with most conservatives in his support of gay rights.

As McMillan himself said, “The Rent is Too Damn High party is all those parties combined into one.” However this “accommodation” of other ideologies, as McMillan called it, may not provide the solid political platform a presidential candidate  needs.

In his speech McMillan drifted through a variety of subjects concerning the problems of the current American government and admonished his audience to take charge of their government like the people of Egypt and the Arab world.

Yet when it comes to international relations McMillan is concerned more about the daily life of Americans. He could care less about fighting terrorism, because “there’s a special department . . . Homeland Security” that takes care of that.

“I’m here for America, [and] American[s]. I want to talk about hunger and rent,” McMillan said.

The audience tittered as McMillan cracked a series of crude jokes, which included some off-color remarks about President Obama. “Don’t ever lose your sense of humor,” he said.

But however outrageous his statements may be, Jimmy McMillan’s rise to fame is an admirable one. Starting with only $16.91, McMillan set out to “do more with less” and used the Internet to generate awareness.

Inspired by his neighbors who complained that “the rent was too damn high,” McMillan composed songs and eventually built up a political party based around that theme. He grew a beard and donned black gloves and sporty sunglasses to “get your attention.”

Up to this point McMillan has been running his campaign as a one-man show, but as he seeks the presidential nomination he has formed a political party complete with a manager and few staff members.

“I know Jimmy, he can do anything he puts his mind to. We’re looking for a national movement,” campaign manager Ishmael Muhammad said.

That is, a national young movement.

When asked by a middle-aged member of the audience why he didn’t try for a more relevant position such as the New York State senate, McMillan fired back by calling  the questioner “old.”

“This is what’s going on with America,” McMillan said.  “I will not be distracted by criticism, I love my grandfather and grandmother, too, but at some point they screwed up.”

Although he himself is 64 years old, McMillan blamed the older generation of Americans for the stagnation of the government and called for a revival of the younger generation. As a Vietnam War veteran, McMillan could not understand why he could kill someone at age 18 yet not be considered old enough to drink.

Students appreciated McMillan’s attention to their needs, but felt that McMillan’s campaign was only out there “to make a statement.”

“It’s nice to hear politicians come in and [engage] 18-20 year olds,” sophomore Divya Prakash said.

But how effective of a leader would McMillan be? When asked how he would solve the problems of high rent and unemployment, he told his listeners to trust him, and that if he was given the power he would make it happen. Leaving everything to trust is not a very concrete presidential platform.

“He’s very impassioned [and it] makes it easy to believe it all, [but] I’m not sure if I’d vote for him; it depends on who he’s up against,” freshman Stephanie McCourt said.

As for McMillan himself, he lacks no confidence: “Jimmy McMillan represents. Like it or not, here I come.”