A Guilford County woman who was arrested for attempting to lower the Confederate flag last year at the state capitol in South Carolina has decided that she should be president.
Melisa “Mi Mi” Boyett’s quest for the presidency of the United States began with a vision a year ago that God was telling her to go to the South Carolina state capitol, lower the Confederate flag to half-mast and heal herself of breast cancer.
Just before midnight on July 3, 2015, Boyett was arrested by state law enforcement officers after jumping the fence at the Confederate monument, according to a report in the State newspaper. As she recounted over coffee during an interview at the Iron Hen in Greensboro on Tuesday morning, Boyett danced around the flagpole at the South Carolina capitol to make her point. She spent several days in a local detention center serving Richland County, which surrounds the state capitol — an experience that sensitized her to racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and led to an encounter, she said, with a woman named “Preacher” who healed her breast cancer.
“I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that mass incarceration is real,” she said. “I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that mass desperation is real.”
As a mark of her moderate politics, Boyett merely wanted to lower the Confederate flag to half-mast as a show of respect for the nine people massacred by Dylann Roof at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, although she admires Bree Newsome — who had scaled the flagpole and removed the flag altogether a week earlier — calling her “my hero.”
The Whitsett resident, who has a background in sales and interior design, initially set her sights on a goal of being appointed secretary of state by the next president. She said the idea to run for president as a write-in candidate came about while she was registering people to vote. People would tell her, “Oh no, I don’t want to be part of that circus,” but she said when she mentioned she was running for president, they changed their tune and told her she could count on their vote.
“Recently, God told me to feed His people,” Boyett recounted. “That’s when I decided to run for president.”
She made her official announcement in a press release on July 9, in the aftermath of the Dallas sniper shooting and police-involved deaths of black men in Baton Rouge, La. and Minnesota.
“Motivated and devastated by the recent tragic events all over the country, Mi Mi has decided to match her executive-level management skills and and experience as Richland SC Prisoner Inmate #629509 with that of the millionaire and billionaire candidates,” the release reads.
During the interview Tuesday, Boyett confided with a hearty laugh: “This is my best chance to rule the world, in all honesty.”
Her political pitch brims with high-profile political names, including both adversaries and potential allies. She compared her management experience to that of Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and unsuccessful Republican candidate for president. She pledged to implement something called “God’s Economic Plan,” acknowledging another Republican presidential candidate, Ben Carson, gave her the idea, while insisting with a sly twinkle of the eye that God is the ultimate author. She said she’ll invite Bernie Sanders to serve as vice president, noting his experience and suggesting his progressive politics will counterbalance her own capitalist orientation. And she would like Carson to serve as her secretary of state.
Registered unaffiliated, Boyett voted the Democratic ballot in the March 15 primary, and she registered online to host a phone-bank party for the Sanders campaign. She voted the nonpartisan ballot in the second primary on June 7.
She views herself as having a kind of divine ordination to trump Donald Trump, in a manner of speaking. While the presumptive Republican nominee famously stumbled when citing a Bible verse by calling it “Two Corinthians” instead of “Second Corinthians,” Boyett chose her web domain name, beincorruptible.com, based on the verse from 1 Corinthians 15.
“The Scripture tells us: ‘For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed,’” she said. “Don’t you see? I’m the blast trumpet. It’s time for all of us to wake up.”
She realizes this all sounds a little crazy, remarking with a note of self-awareness: “I’m completely delusional, right?”
She suggests her candidacy with its platform of unity and bipartisan synthesis could somehow miraculously induce Trump to step aside.
“I believe I’m his girl,” Boyett said. “For some reason, I don’t believe Trump wants to be president. If he’ll hear the trumpet sound and do the right thing, I believe he’ll step back and say, ‘She’s the one. I’m voting for her.’”
Boyett doesn’t have much bad to say about Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, calling her a “powerful woman who’s giving women a choice” and taking the position that she’s not a crook.
When pressed to make the case for why voters leaning towards Clinton should switch their vote, Boyett said, “What makes me mad about Hillary Clinton is that Bernie Sanders went from 3 to 43 percent in the polls, and she wouldn’t make him vice president.”
She quickly added, “The polling is completely suspect.” And then, tangentially: “9/11 is completely suspect.”
As a candidate, Boyett displays more enthusiasm then strategy. Asked how she plans to get her message out to voters, she responded with a statement ambiguous in detail and heavy in faith. “Technology is key,” she said. “Social media is key. If God’s behind me, I’ll succeed.”
She’s been campaigning basically anywhere she can find people.
“I go to car shows,” she said. “I meet people at malls. Yesterday, it was so cool. I went to a daycare. They were about to start having the staff meeting. I said, ‘Hey, can I talk to you for a couple minutes?’ And the woman who was leading it said, “Yeah, yeah, come on in.’”
Discussing her presidential aspirations, Boyett will occasionally veer into state politics, particularly when it comes to water quality. She faults Duke Energy for degrading well water through its coal-ash dams, and considers Gov. Pat McCrory — a former Duke executive and beneficiary of lavish campaign spending — to be a crony.
“I was down at Mirage” — an adult entertainment establishment — “looking for strong, powerful women to help with this campaign,” she said, joking in reference to her adventure at the South Carolina state capitol that she wanted to enlist “pole dancers like myself.”
The linchpin of Boyett’s economic policy is appealing, but somewhat fanciful.
“It’s the Year of the Jubilee,” she said, as an explanation for how God’s Economic Plan would work. “We can free the slaves. You’re a slave. We’re slaves to debt. Don’t you deserve to be free? We have to hit reset.”
Asked how she would persuade lenders to forgive debt, she suggested that upsetting a handful of bank CEOs would be nothing compared to pleasing millions of US citizens. The economic plan, described in some detail on the candidate’s website, explains that the website would function as a platform for an online listing similar to the phone book for every American, with display advertising sold around it.
The banks should be the most enthusiastic participants in the plan, Boyett suggested during her interview.
“Really, we want to sell a boatload of advertising and give it back to the people, as part of the jubilee,” she said. “In the next round we need to get money out of politics. We need to fire all the lobbyists.”
The candidate’s preoccupation with sales and display advertising surfaced as she and this reporter negotiated a backdrop for a photograph to illustrate this story. She took note of the Dunkin Donuts sign on Wendover Avenue, around the corner from Iron Hen. She asked to be photographed from the chest up with the signs in the background, with mixed results considering that most of the signage was several feet above her head. The photo shoot attracted the attention of the proprietor of an adjacent Kangaroo Express, and Boyett tried to allay his concerns by explaining that she was a politician getting her picture taken. Suddenly Boyett had the idea to slip behind a low fence to pose behind a row of tobacco and lottery advertising placards.
“There’s bees back there,” the gas-station proprietor warned, but Boyett was undeterred.
And taking a stance beside a green Kool cigarette placard, she declared, “Smoke this!”