This week marks the true beginning of the Presidential Election Season. In the next seven days, the Democratic and Republican parties will finalize their candidates for the 2012 Presidential campaign.
Super-hero comics have, for the most part, steered clear of electoral politics. Other than the occasional appearance by a real-world POTUS or two, both the DC and Marvel Universes have kept a safe distance.
With the Presidential field about to be site, however, those of us who style ourselves independents may feel a bit underwhelmed. It is with this in mind that I submit for your consideration an alternate set of contenders.
Ripped from the pages of your favorite funny-books, here are five characters who could mount successful campaigns for the Presidency.
5. Michael Holt (Mr. Terrific)
Holt has the thinnest record out of our five candidates, but a successful run as the head of technology firm Holt Industries combined with an intellect that makes him the third-smartest man on Earth give Michael at least a middling chance at the Presidency.
With America struggling to keep pace in international science and mathematics rankings, Holt’s public support of math and science education and his history of building support for programs across party boundaries would make him attractive to Independents and Democrats, while his undeniable intelligence and financial acumen would appeal to moderate Republicans.
The real impediment to his campaign would be his unwillingness to go negative. It’s hard to see a candidate who has run around with Fair Play written on his sleeve, slinging mud with the political heavies. Sadly, in the current political environment, this would likely be his undoing which earns him the lowest ranking on this list.
4. Oliver Queen (Green Arrow)
Ollie would appear on the surface to be an ideal candidate. He is a beautiful person, world-traveller, and well-educated and independently wealthy. As a Queen, he is definitely old money, coming from a long line of titans of industry. His undeniable charm would make him a smash-hit with the morning news shows. His long history as an advocate of equal rights makes him a strong populist figure who would appeal to the Democratic base. Full disclosure of his history as a costumed adventurer who fights on behalf of social causes would energize the liberal left while laying to rest many questions about his fitness that would arise from his early record as a hard-partying playboy.
There would likely be some hard questions about his party-filled youth, but his time spent stranded on a desert island while teaching himself archery and battling drug-smuggling pirates would quiet most critics. After all, the only thing America loves more than watching celebrities rise and fall is a comeback story.
3. Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic)
He has already spent decades as the head Marvel’s First Family, giving Reed quite the resume. Let’s put aside the number of times he and his have saved the world (because, come on, who on this list doesn’t have a few of those notches on their belt?). Reed has easily the best academic credentials of this crop of candidates. He presents the most traditionally photogenic image to the American voter, particularly given his nuclear family of Sue and their brilliant children Franklin and Valeria. Time would take one look at this assemblage and declare the beginning of a new Camelot. When it comes to fiscal savvy, Reed can point to his recent success in operating the Future Foundation as well as the success of the Fantastic Four as a non-profit.
He would have to do some quick thinking when the press decided to ask him about his role in the construction and operation of an extradimensional gulag in Civil War, and he might struggle with the anti-registration segment of the population, but his mixture of intelligence, aesthetic appeal, and family focus would make him an undeniably appealing candidate.
2. Bruce Wayne (Batman)
In the era of limitless campaign spending by private groups, no one could mount a campaign to match that of Bruce Wayne. He holds the Gotham City political apparatus in the palm of his hand. Wayne Enterprises is one of the largest employers in the world, giving him instant credibility with the pro-“job creators” wing of the Republican party.
In the modern media context, it is impossible to believe that the murder of the Waynes was not national news, with young Bruce featuring prominently in the news-cycle narratives. That said, a devout law-and-order candidate would resonate strongly with conservative voters. On the flip-side, his recent efforts to redevelop Gotham’s core would be a huge hit with urban voters.
He may have little experience in government, but he made his company one of Gotham City’s lone shining stars, which would go a long way toward earning him the credibility he would need on the national stage. He has demonstrated success in orchestrating operations in cooperation with multiple nations. He is the public face of Batman Inc., which funds operatives in countries around the world, giving him a major push from international support.
His real trump card, though, is his fortune. Wayne Enterprise’s holdings in various media would allow him to spread his message to the widest possible audience. In the age of unlimited corporate contributions, the immense Wayne fortune combined with a media platform from which to launch and sustain his candidacy would make him a hard candidate to counter.
Which brings us to our number one contender. Who, you may ask, could counter Ollie Queen’s charm, Reed Richard’s record, Michael Holt’s brilliance, and Bruce Wayne’s fortune?
1. Tony Stark (Iron Man)
Tony is the complete package.
As the head of Stark Industries, he is a man who understands the commercial sector.
His financial resources are top-notch, allowing him to compete without being beholden to special interest groups like many candidates.
He was the public face of the Registration movement, which has given him extensive experience working at the top levels of government.
He understands the military, having spent decades as a weapons manufacturer and several years as the Secretary of Defense. Oh, he also ran S.H.I.E.L.D.
He is a leader in alternative energy, making him and instant hit with the environmental crowd. He has also renounced his time as a weapons manufacturer, which dampens the impact that history might have with the left.
Finally, he is almost disgustingly charming. Of all the candidates, none is so easy to image being a hit on Conan, Kimmel, or SNL as Tony Stark. You want to like him, you want to be him, and, most of all, you want to vote for him.
Iron Man 2012.