Election 2024

Meet 'Literally Anybody Else,' the Presidential Candidate That 2024 Demands

The 35-year-old Texan formerly known as Dustin Ebey voted for Gary Johnson in 2016 and says the national debt is America's biggest problem.


Like most Americans, Dustin Ebey is unhappy with the prospect of an electoral rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

Unlike most of us, however, he's decided to do something about it.

The 35-year-old Texan became a viral sensation this week after legally changing his name to Literally Anybody Else and declaring his candidacy for the White House. The goal, he told Reason on Thursday, is "giving a unified voice to the idea that we deserve better."

"[Biden and Trump] have their platforms, they have their stances. And if you don't fit into them, you have you have to decide," Else says. "Some people they're perfectly aligned with—but it's definitely not the majority."

Indeed, a Gallup poll released this week found that about one-third of Americans believe that neither Trump nor Biden would be a good president if elected to another term. Other polls show that both men have low approval ratings and that a majority of voters wish both men would decline to run again. At 77 and 81, respectively, Trump and Biden are the oldest pair of major party presidential nominees in history—breaking the record they set four years ago.

Could it be that Americans are looking for Literally Anybody Else?

In the interview, Else described himself as a generally apolitical centrist who has grown increasingly distressed at the state of the country's major parties. He says he voted for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson in 2016 after being unable to stomach the choice between Trump and Hillary Clinton, then pulled the lever for Trump in 2020—a decision he came to regret after the January 6 riot. A seventh-grade math teacher and Army vet, Else says the national debt is the biggest issue facing the country.

"If we cannot get our debt under control, there is almost nothing that will save us," he says.

Else filed the necessary paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission—which at first did not believe he was serious about this—and is beginning the arduous task of collecting the thousands of signatures that he'll need to get on the Texas ballot as an independent candidate.

Else has been shocked by the outpouring of support he's received via social media and claims that he's received dozens of calls and emails from prospective volunteers and people interested in working on his campaign. A more professionalized campaign website is currently under construction, he says, and specific policy proposals will be rolling out in the coming months.

His effort is the ultimate of longshots—it would take "an act of God" to put him in the White House, he admits.

Still, there is no denying that his decision to commit to this bit reflects a brutal truth about the state of the 2024 election. And there's no doubt that Else's candidacy offers something neither Trump nor Biden can: He is Literally not them.

Reason caught up with Literally Anybody Else on Thursday night to ask about the origins of this wild idea, his political ideology, and how he feels about already being labeled a spoiler for the two major parties.

Reason: I have to ask the obvious question first. Why are you doing this?

Literally Anybody Else: Have you seen who's running for president lately?

Reason: I have. Fair point.

Literally Anybody Else: There's a huge, huge shortcoming when you think about [it].

When I look at Donald Trump, even barring all of his policy gaffes, Trump represents the 0.1 percent of wealth just by virtue of him being a billionaire. That's not something that a lot of us can connect with. For Biden, he's been a politician for 60 years, and I just doubt his ability to even sympathize with what's going on down here at the ground level. I want something better. I want something closer to me, closer to the people around me.

Reason: How did this idea first come about, and was there intoxication involved?

Literally Anybody Else: I actually don't react well to alcohol. I don't really drink it all that much. I had a glass of wine today and I am struggling to get through half of it.

If there was Literally Anybody Else on the 2020 ballot, I would have picked it. With that sentiment in mind, I thought, "Hey, I bet that I could make money with this concept." So I bought the domain LiterallyAnybodyElse.com with the intent of using the gimmick to sell t-shirts. It was a commercial decision. As we started going through the year, getting closer and closer to election season, I kept hearing more and more of the rhetoric, more and more of the divisiveness on the news. I began to wonder if it'd be possible to just get Literally Anybody Else on the ballot.

But I quickly came to realize that many states did not allow aliases on the ballot. So, I came to the conclusion that in order to actually have this happen, somebody would have to legally change their name to Literally Anybody Else, which is just stupid. Who would go that length when it is really that serious of a thing? As time went on, it got that serious.

Reason: Any unexpected complications?

Literally Anybody Else: I filed the paperwork online, paid my 330-something dollars, and within a couple of days I went in front of the judge and told her what I wanted to change my name to. She looked at me. She was like, "You going to be that guy?" I didn't even know if it would go through. And she allowed it. She said, "Yeah, it's part of your First Amendment right to protest."

And I was like, OK, this is happening.

Reason: Are your friends and family calling you "Literally" now?

Literally Anybody Else: No, the name has a pragmatic function. Look at it like this: You and I are talking. We would not be talking if I was running as Dustin.

Reason: That's a good point. What's the Literally Anybody Else campaign pitch to the American people?

Literally Anybody Else:  The first phase right now is all about unity. I am the candidate who stands to unify America in ways that the other two candidates just simply can't anymore.

They spend so much time demonizing the other side that any perception of empathy is perceived as betrayal. If I'm going to be president of the United States, I need to represent the people of the United States, not just those who are aligned with me, not just those who fit into the cookie cutter that I am. They have their platforms, they have their stances. If you don't fit into them, you have you have to decide. Some people they're perfectly aligned with—but it's definitely not the majority.

Reason: How would you describe your political ideology?

Literally Anybody Else: I cannot at this time. That will be coming out in June or July. I don't want to focus on the platform without having the proper development. I'm political outsider.

Reason: Who did you vote for in the most recent elections?

Literally Anybody Else: When it was Trump versus Hillary, I couldn't really take either one of them seriously. I ended up voting third party, for Gary Johnson. He was a weird candidate, but again, that was more of an "I don't like Trump or Hillary" vote.

In 2020, I was very, very busy and didn't have the luxury of looking into the candidates. My family aligned with Trump, so I did end up voting for him—and ended up regretting it shortly after when January 6 happened.

I still to this day do not understand how we got to the point where we are. It makes no sense. Like, nobody wanted this in 2020. How did you how did we end up with this again in 2024? Can someone please explain to me how the system has allowed that to happen?

Reason: What's the most important issue facing the country right now?

Literally Anybody Else: The most important issue facing the country is the debt, bar none. Many things spin off from that. If we cannot get our debt under control, there is almost nothing that will save us.

I would not allow any spending that did not have a balanced budget. We had $7 trillion added to the national debt under Trump, $2 trillion under Joe Biden. My three-year-old daughter in some way, shape, or form will have to contribute to paying that back. If we don't manage it now, what happens in 20, 30 years if we reach a point where our interest on the national debt goes beyond what we can pay? What happens to America's credibility? What happens to our ability to take care of ourselves if people can't trust our word?

Reason: What does success look like?

Literally Anybody Else: Giving a unified voice to the idea that we deserve better, and actually having it make an effect on how we do politics. You know, I think if we can move the needle from the polarized ends back to the center, back to sanity, kind of narrow the Overton window so that those who are most extreme have the least voice, and then those who are most aligned with the majority of the country can have an avenue to represent us. That's all I want.

Literally Anybody Else stands for an idea. We just want representation. Somebody needs to step up to provide it. Since nobody stepping up, that's why I've decided to put myself out there.

Reason: Last thing. Third-party and independent candidates frequently get singled out for supposedly being "spoilers" to the two major parties. Are you worried about spoiling the election for either Biden or Trump?

Literally Anybody Else: Not really.

But it's been interesting to watch social media because I've been called a Trump plant. I've been called a Biden plant. I've been called a liberal hack. I've been called a conservative. But I'm intentionally staying in the middle, and it's not really that hard because I am a centrist. I average out to the middle. You'll start seeing more of that in June, July when I start publishing policies.

It's been honestly entertaining to see where people are trying to put me in these boxes because they're all over the place. But right now it's all about unity. It's all about bringing people together. Building the chorus, shall we say, before we start singing the message.

This interview has been condensed and edited for style and clarity.