Comic-Con-inspired advice for the polls today–who is your favorite fictional candidate?

If you haven’t voted yet.  Go do it.  Longer than usual voting lines are expected today.  But who knows long lines better than Comic-Con fans?  Today is your day.  You can show the others how it’s done.  And why not drag your comic book-toting friends along?  Heck, bring along a stack to read.  It’s going to be a long day.

If you’re like me, you get a bit annoyed in the weeks prior to Comic-Con with people trying to hand out tips for your first Comic-Con.  Like we can’t figure it out.  So, in return, here’s a list you can send to your non-comic book-lovin’, non-genre-lovin’, the “who the heck is Buffy the Vampire Slayer voters” you’ll be stuck with all day.  Here’s a modified advice list snatched from lists of advice for first-timers at past San Diego Comic-Cons, a list which seems to apply well to your neighbors who think they know long lines but don’t: 

  1. Be respectful of other fans voters.
  2. Being annoyed by the line isn’t a license to be a jerk.
  3. Bring healthy food and a bottle of water (but you can probably leave the sleeping bag at home this time).
  4. Wear deodorant.  (If it’s good advice for guys at Comic-Con, it’s good for your neighbors).
  5. Leave your cool Alex Ross SuperObama T-shirt at home or “they” might not let you in to vote due to rules about political advertising at polls.  Or better yet, wear it under another shirt.  You won’t be the only one.
  6. Don’t forget the swag!  An “I Voted!” sticker beats another tote bag any day.
  7. Stay in line, no matter how long you have to wait, or you might miss the best panel of all time the candidate you don’t like may win.
  8. Wear comfortable shoes.
  9. Have plans for someone else to pick up your kids or sibs or better yet, take your kids with (pull them out of school early if you need to) and take them into the voting booth and show them how it’s done (like my mom did).  You gotta learn somewhere.
  10. Have fun!  It’s not Comic-Con but you’re exercising the right to vote that was fought for in battle after battle by our relatives and ancestors for centuries.  Don’t take it for granted!

OK, you’re back from voting?  Great.  Before you’re sick of all the political ads (oops, too late), let’s talk politics–politics on the little and big screen.  We thought we’d give one last presidential push by queuing up those actors as politicians that we wish would come right off the page and lead our nation.  Who would be your candidate?  Try these on for size.

Bill Pullman as President Thomas J. Whitmore in Independence Day.  Who doesn’t want a president who is as appealing as Bill Pullman in pretty much all his performances?  His President Whitmore has the soft-spoken, everyman charisma that makes it seem obvious why the fictional world of Independence Day would make him their guy.  And if you want one trait in a president, it is the ability to lead in the face of adversity–and what is more dire than aliens taking over the planet?  This ex-Gulf War pilot turned president also has a great #2 in command: First Lady Marilyn Whitmore, played by Mary McDonnell.  And speaking of Mary McDonnell…

Mary McDonnell as President Laura Roslin in Battlestar Galactica.  President Roslin illustrates why a cabinet is so important.  After the destruction of the top offices of the Twelve Colonies by the Cylons, it is left to the Secretary of Education to take on the mantle of Commander-in-Chief.  What skills, what experience is needed to lead people?  McDonnell’s president shows that a tough and educated leader with the right demeanor can persuade others to follow, including someone like Admiral Adama, who initially objected to her selection for the position.

In the dual role of citizen Dave Kovic who was unexpectedly turned into a stand-in for President Bill Mitchell, it is Kevin Kline in his performance as Dave in the movie Dave that leaves audiences wondering why every president can’t be like this guy.  Dave runs an employment temp agency and he performs as a president look-alike at parties.  So why would he be the best president of all?  He has compassion, he has common sense, and unlike the real President Mitchell, Dave wants to do the right thing, not waste money having voters pay their tax dollars to support a government marketing program that makes people feel good about the cars they have bought when that money could be used to save a homeless shelter.

In the American President, Michael Douglas doesn’t give us the ideal president so much as a president with flaws who is willing to change–a wise man changes his mind, a fool never does.  President Andrew Shepherd tries to get a moderate crime bill passed in order to increase his administration’s approval rating and lock in his run for a second term.  In his personal life he is a widower with a daughter, and he has the unique role of being a President wanting to go on a date with an environmental lobbyist.  Does he do the right thing in the end for the country by trashing the crime bill and supporting his girlfriend’s energy bill instead?  Whatever you think of the policies, this is a president you like for his actions.

Anyone who has read Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels can hardly wait for the day when Debt of Honor and Executive Orders hits the movie plex.  It seems unlikely that it will ever happen, but had the movies kept going with our second favorite actor to play Jack Ryan we could have seen Harrison Ford’s Ryan succeed to the role of POTUS.  Since he’s not likely to ever play Ryan again (Star Trek actor Chris Pine is slated to be the next Jack Ryan in a film next year), we can get a view of what it’d be like to see President Jack Ryan with Ford’s President James Marshall in Air Force One.  Ford always seems to play Ford in his movies, but here that means an authoritative, quick-reflex survivor and protector.

It’s not only candidates for U.S. President that have shown us examples of the right person for the job.  In The Candidate, audiences got to see more than in any other film the realities of running for political office.  In his performance as the candidate for the office of U.S. Senator from California, Robert Redford’s young lawyer Bill McKay propels himself through a morass of circumstances, including getting the unwanted endorsement of his own ex-politician father, to become Senator Bill McKay.  His naiveté mixed with his determination to not change who he is creates an inspiring candidate for office.

But the single performance as politician that has inspired audiences and leaders for decades is Jimmy Stewart as Senator Jefferson Smith in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  An expert in understanding America, director Frank Capra made his masterwork before he would go on to make non-fiction documentaries for the U.S. military.  Betrayed by his mentor, battered by the other members of Congress, manipulated by his own supposed backers and supporters, Senator Smith gives an iconic plea via filibuster on the floor of Congress, a plea for people to do the right thing.  Laying it all on the line, Stewart’s Senator Smith is the politician all leaders should aspire to.

So who don’t we want to win the election?

How about Damian Lewis’s ex-prisoner of war/marine sergeant-turned-Congressman Nicholas Brody in his candidacy for Vice President of the U.S. in the Showtime TV series Homeland?  A double agent, a sleeper spy who nearly detonated a bomb in Season One, trained by our very enemies, Lewis’s Brody is a scary choice for high office.

Although it is based on an Israeli series, Homeland seems to share many traits in common with the movies (original and remake) of The Manchurian Candidate.   In those films Liev Schreiber (and Laurence Harvey in the original) nearly becomes Vice President Raymond Shaw, in one movie a sci-fi developed man and the original a brainwashed sleeper agent, both are unwitting dupes of their nearby political henchmen.   Vote no on Brady and Shaw!

Despite his superpower ability to fly, Adrian Pasnar’s role as Senator Nathan Petrelli in the TV series Heroes (shown above) revealed an ambitious and pragmatic young leader caught up in the ugliness of politics who only became the good guy when he revealed his true self to everyone.  In the end Petrelli is redeemed, sacrificing his life to save everyone.  Hey, maybe he should go in our like list.  For that matter so should Harvey Dent.

But it’s not just the bad or even evil people we don’t want in political office.  As my friend in DC politics used to say back in the 1990s, “You can’t fix stupid.”  And if not plain stupid then at least bumbling–Barry Bostwick’s Mayor Randall Winston, Jr. in the TV series Spin City was all too real as the poster child for promoting someone to the level of their own incompetence.  Add Winston to his earlier incarnation as the loveable and well-meaning Governor Eugene Xavier Gatling played by James Noble in the 1970s TV series Benson and you have the dynamic duo of ditz.

Happy Voting!

C.J. Bunce

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