Harley D. Brown doesn't care if you're offended. He's a retired Navy man, and he thinks that anti-personnel mines would be a fine and effective deterrent to Mexicans who cross illegally onto United States soil. He said some mines, which might "castrate you or cause some arterial bleeding," are "a splendid idea."
On the big issues facing our country, this is a candidate who knows where he stands.
Abortion? "I'm down on abortion like God Almighty is down on sin."
Iran? "That guy in Iran, he's over there threatening the whole Middle East with those nuclear weapons. I believe in wiping them out with a preemptive nuclear strike."
Medicare? "That is completely government socialism," he said. "And I would attack it."
Brown, 56, is running for Congress, and he talks about attacking lots of things. In the May 25 First Congressional District Republican primary he will face decorated Marine veteran Vaughn Ward and socially conservative state legislator Raul Labrador for a chance to challenge Idaho's Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick. All the candidates--including Minnick who earned a national Tea Party group endorsement--have catered to Tea Party outsiders, but Brown is as anti as they come.
"The only Spanish signs I want to see my tax dollars pay for are the ones in big red letters that say, 'DO NOT ENTER. AUTHORIZED USE OF DEADLY FORCE,'" he said in his clipped Navy-speak. "I want motion detectors. Electrify the fences. Militarily fortify it."
The logic behind all this rough talk is, essentially, deterrence.
"If they see we are getting damned serious about this stuff, they will think twice about risking their lives to [cross the border]," he said.
Brown has been running for various public offices in Idaho for nearly 15 years.
"You ever see videos of one of those early '50s-era test rockets?" he asked. "How they rise just a few feet off the launching pad and then tip over and crash in a spectacular explosion? That's how I'd describe most of my political career."
Before politics, Brown served as Bravo Company Commander with the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion, or the SeaBees, in the Atlantic Fleet. The SeaBee mascot wears a round sailor's cap, wields a Tommy gun, a hammer and a wrench.
Brown's unlikely political career began in November 1994, immediately following a mystical experience he had while living in a friend's basement. His wife had filed for divorce, and a "trumped-up restraining order" kept him from seeing his kids.
"I was at a low point in my life," he said, so he cried out to God for guidance. To Brown's amazement, God answered. "I didn't hear a voice," he said, "but His spirit talked to my spirit and He said, 'I have a higher plan for you, son.'" Brown thought maybe he would be made the secretary of war. ("I never liked the name secretary of defense.")
It turned out God had even bigger plans: commander-in-chief.
"I balked," Brown said. "What do I know about politics and protocol and the economy? And if you make me president," he said unto God, "if you give me all that firepower, I'm gonna use it ... I'm gonna have to take over the whole damn world."
With his destiny clarified, Brown had the presidential seal tattooed on his shoulder the very next day.
"Everyone thought I lost my mind, but I didn't give a damn. I started running for president," Brown said.
Three years later, a Kenyan minister--Rev. Bishop Thomas P. Abungu--signed a notarized statement swearing that Brown would, in 20 years time, be president of the United States. The document remains one of Brown's only pieces of campaign literature, and he cites Abungu's prophecy as one of his candidacy's central pillars.
Along the ordained path to the nation's highest office, he also ran in a few local races. Ten years ago, he finished just 1,825 votes short of becoming an Ada County Highway commissioner. But the time for Brown to tinker with local issues has passed.
"I'm a diesel mechanic, I do bulldozers and the big stuff." National issues, he said, take precedence.
Issues like President Barack Obama's birth certificate, even though Obama provided his birth certificate in June 2008 and the "birthers" have been thoroughly disproven by historical records.
"When it's something this important, it's good to take a second look, and a third, a fourth and a fifth," Brown said.
Harley D. Brown was born Robert John Brown, "a garden variety name," in Waterbury, Conn. In 1996, two years after the chat with God, he changed his name "for political purposes." And while he finds it "an extremely catchy name," Harley D. Brown is ultimately a means to an end. "After I am elected president of the United States, I will change my name back to Robert John Brown."
Brown said that he is sincere.
"The left wingers are calling me all kinds of nasty names," he said with a shrugging, what-can-you-do kind of acceptance. "A lot of people love me, but a lot of people think I'm a bizarre asshole.
"Look, I give people the truth in my heart, with the bark on," Brown barked. "I'm not gonna do it in a manner consistent with polish or political correctness."
If you think Brown sounds a bit deranged, well, he doesn't really care. "That's just my style," he said. Plus, "Congress needs someone crazy," as his pamphlets say, "to combat their insanity."