The 3 Fictional Presidents We Could Use Right Now
If there is a person who looks forward to President's Day more than I do, then I haven't found him, fought him, defeated him, and devoured his heart to gain his courage and presidential knowledge yet. I love presidents. Mostly I write about things that aren't presidents, because presidents are almost never timely, but for one glorious three-day weekend of partying and super sales every year, I can take off my chains and write an article about presidents, as is my destiny.
Since I've already covered our most badass presidents, our craziest president, our president who is most likely a mutant, and the weirdest sex lives of presidents, I thought it was time for some outside-the-box thinking. Since historians have already done a fairly thorough job ranking the best real presidents, it seemed to me that it was time some brave hero covered the best fictional ones. And since most historians refuse to do that, the burden falls to me.
President Thomas Whitmore
President He Most Closely Resembles:
It's no coincidence that most of our greatest presidents (according to historians) also happened to be the presidents who were tasked with navigating America through extremely difficult times. Washington had the creation of the Union, Lincoln had the Civil War, FDR had a war and the Depression. There's no telling what kind of impact these presidents would have made had they presided over times of peace. They needed these catastrophes to thrust them into greatness, because it is whether or not a man flinches when faced with turmoil that determines his true strength.
Life is just choices, man.
The alien invasion in Independence Day was President Thomas Whitmore's Great Depression, Civil War, and World War II all rolled into one, and the man did not flinch.
Whitmore navigated us through a disaster of unprecedented magnitude, and he did it all while his wife was dying. The man was unflappable. He kept his cool because America would not be able to hold itself together if it didn't have a strong leader assuring the country that everything was going to be fine.
Still, even though he soared to greatness on the rockets of disaster, Whitmore is more James Madison than Lincoln or FDR. Madison was a peaceful man who didn't personally want to go to war in 1812 when the British Empire was still having a hard time accepting America's independence. He wanted to find a diplomatic solution with the British Empire, but when it became clear that no solution would be available, not only did he declare war, but he actually grabbed some guns and joined the effort, being the only person in history to take up arms and take a position on the battlefield while president. Does that sound familiar? Whitmore wanted to avoid all-out war with the aliens. He tried reasoning with them and showing them that humans were peaceful, but when it was clear that the aliens could not be reasoned with, he didn't waste a breath before declaring "Nuke 'em. Let's nuke the bastards." And when the opportunity presented itself, he hopped into a fighter jet and chased the aliens down himself. Kind of a stupid move (if you die, who becomes president? Goldblum?), but undeniably badass, all the same.
President Super President
President He Most Closely Resembles:
James K. Polk
I've talked about my love of Super President -- the cartoon about a man who leads the country as President James Norcross by day and fights evil as the superpowered Super President by night -- before, but I think it warrants another glance, if only because it's about a president who is also a superhero.
Described by the show's creator as "the worst thing we've ever made," Super President as a show wasn't that great. But Super President as a character is incredible. He can fly and change shape and he has super strength, and while these are all great qualities for any president, it's not why I'd be thrilled to have him lead our nation someday. Norcross' ability to smile, attend press conferences, and negotiate treaties one minute coupled with his ability to go out there and get shit done the next is exactly the kind of skill I'm looking for in a presidential candidate.
Let's look at it like this. Bruce Wayne was a man who believed in the law until the law failed him and he needed to become the Night so he could pick up the pieces that the law broke. We like Batman, right? Good. James Norcross was a man who believed in the presidency until, we have to assume, it was clear that the presidency was failing him. Maybe he had an uncooperative Congress, or maybe the media was putting him under too much scrutiny. He still had a vision for America, so, reluctantly, he became Super President. As Super President, he could accomplish all that he couldn't as regular president. He knows what's best for America, and he's not going to let a bunch of sniveling Congressmen get in the way of that.
Originally aired in 1967. Based on the secret memoirs of Lyndon Johnson.
He's like James K. Polk. Polk, similarly, had a vision for America and wasn't going to let anyone stand in his way. Polk's the man responsible for getting America from sea to shining sea. Polk was the one who expanded America into California and fulfilled our Manifest Destiny. He said he was going to do it before he took office, he said he only needed one term to do it, and he pulled it off. How? Well, he probably cheated.
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that Polk illegally forced his way into California, which at the time belonged to Mexico. Polk claimed that Mexican forces crossed the border and spilled American blood on American soil, and he used this as total justification to go to war, despite the fact that more than a few Congressmen (among them Abraham Lincoln) believed that Polk's soldiers at best provoked the attack and at worst lied about it.
Polk's decision to go behind Congress' back and lie and possibly manipulate events to further his own agenda may not make him a great man, but a) it got us California and b) it at the very least makes him our most Super Presidentiest president. And isn't what Polk and Super President did kind of good? How many of you are frustrated when you hear President Obama or any previous modern president make a bunch of promises that he can't keep because of a stubborn Congress, or powerful lobbyists, or rich corporations, or anything under the banner of "politics as usual"? The world's a complicated place. What Polk and Super President did may not be right, but sometimes that's what you need. Sometimes you need the guy who is going to break some rules to fulfill his destiny. Sometimes you want a president who is willing to say, "Fuck Congress, I'm going to fight some space monsters, because someone has to."
Sorry, bureaucracy, it's time for actual results.
President He Most Closely Resembles:
Andrew Jackson + Abraham Lincoln
Idiocracy is a movie about a modern-day man of average intelligence who gets sent 500 years into the future, where the average IQ has dropped to the low 20s, making him the smartest man in the world. Future America is a wasteland; the crops are failing (they're being watered with a Gatorade-like substance), the economy is in the toilet, and logic and reason have taken a back seat to loudness and a TV show where people get hit in the testicles. And this is the president:
President Camacho. Former pro wrestler turned porn star turned president. He dresses in American flag pants, he addresses the nation by dancing, singing, and firing a gun into the air and rallying them with his aggressively patriotic (if completely empty) rhetoric. He's energetic, likable, and absolutely captivating.
It's not just flash, by the way. Sure, he may drive a monster truck, and sure, he wears a giant medal around his neck. But President Camacho's bombastic patriotism is not only inspirational and exciting and explosive, it's also an incredibly useful quality for a leader to have, especially for his situation. America was struggling through a time of unprecedented poverty and loss, but it had a leader who still thought America was the best place in the world. The ability to recognize a country's flaws is certainly important, but people need to believe that their president wouldn't rather be anywhere else.
A country can't be great if its people haven't already blindly accepted it as such, and the people won't know to do that without a strong, passionate president leading the charge. That's who Andrew Jackson was. Andrew Jackson was a man who lost his wife, brother, and parents, so he decided he would make America his surrogate family. He lived, loved, and never left America, and if anyone or anything threatened her, he would come after them with the force and intensity of a man protecting his wife and children. That's what I want. I want America to be run by someone who doesn't just love America -- I want him or her to love the shit out of America. Just look at President Camacho. He screams America, he breathes America, America makes him hard as a rock. When times are tough on a country, sometimes the most important thing to hear is someone shouting "We're number one! We're number one!" It gives you hope.
It's not just President Camacho's patriotism that makes him a great leader. Eventually, Joe is brought to the attention of President Camacho. This weird-talking time traveler with his fancy ideas made it all the way to the White House, because an IQ test claimed he was the smartest man alive. And when that happened, President Camacho did a remarkable thing. He recognized that Joe was smarter, and he bowed to his wisdom. Everyone -- everyone -- in the world of Idiocracy resented Joe, because he talked differently and because his ideas, to them, sounded crazy. They turned against him out of their fear, their pride, and their inability to understand him. Everyone else, when faced with Joe's unconventional ideas, immediately went on the defensive and resented Joe. He didn't fit in with their weird hive mind of delusion and idiocy. Yet for all of his pomposity and ridiculousness, Camacho had the clarity of mind to look beyond all that. What he saw was a man who was smarter than himself, and he had no problem humbling himself and saying "Let's trust the smart guy."
President Lincoln was like that. He stacked his cabinet with his most vocal rivals, because Lincoln wasn't afraid to hear what someone else had to say. Knowledge was king for Lincoln. Even if he didn't totally like or understand someone, he respected ideas. Like Camacho. (Also like Camacho, I think Lincoln was a porn superstar before his presidency.) I want a president who isn't so proud that he's embarrassed to say he doesn't know something. A president who values thought, experimentation, and facts over gut or superstition, a president who will find the smartest guy in the room and ask him for advice.
"Hey, Neil DeGrasse Tyson -- why don't you go ahead and take the wheel on the country for a while?"
I want President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho.