We’re still more than a year out from electing the next President of the United States, and already Republicans and Democrats alike are vying for party nominations. Since so much of the race is still before them, they have time to shape their campaign, so I thought I’d offer some free advice. But not from my experience; no, I’m talking about the most creative, most effective, and most appealing political campaigns in all of fiction.
10. Macbeth – Macbeth
Sure, it’s not one of the nicest ways of getting political office, but you can’t argue with its effectiveness or its popularity. Kill the king, and if you’re next in line, you take his place. This idea’s found a home in everything from The Lion King to White House Down. As long as you don’t have any moral quibbles about murder and you’re willing to keep killing to maintain your office, you’re set.
9. Batman vs. Penguin – Batman (1966 TV Show)
The mayoral campaign of the century pitted crimefighter against supercriminal. At first, it seemed as though the Penguin was the better debater, the savvier politician, and the man who understood the people (as in he didn’t call kissing babies “insanitary”–gosh, Batman). But in the end, it all came down to who would win in a fist fight. Younger and fitter politicians might want to try out this tactic.
8. Donnagon Giggles – Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams
Not sure a vote’s going to go your way? Well, these days it’s all in the computer, so just hack it and change the vote, like Donnagon Giggles. When he wanted control of the spy organization OSS, he simply changed the name on the teleprompter. It may have been presidential nomination rather than a vote, but the principle still applies. It’s like stuffing the ballot box, only with less paper so you can be environmentally conscientious.
7. Oz – The Wizard of Oz
Let’s say for a moment you have no political skills whatsoever, but you want to rule a country. Time to brush up on your magic skills! Nothing wins the people’s minds and hearts faster than using sleight of hand to convince them you’re an all-powerful wizard. A giant puppet face surrounded by flame jets doesn’t hurt either. And after all, no political tactics are more time-honored than theatricality and misdirection.
6. King Arthur – Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Despite what some peasants believe, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is apparently a very sound basis for government. King Arthur’s sword Excalibur grants him kingship and a following of strong, brave knights for questing. So if today’s presidential candidates can get their hands on a powerful artifact, they can claim right to rule by Divine Providence. Look how well it worked with Hitler and the Spear of Destiny … on second thought, maybe that’s not the best example.
5. The Master – Doctor Who
Let’s face it, the fastest way to win an election is good old-fashioned brainwashing. So when Harry Saxon aka the Master decided he wanted to be Prime Minister, he used his own personal media network to mesmerize everyone in Britain into voting for him because he’s nice. Come to think of it, with modern use of political commercials and social media, it’s probable that politicians are already using these campaign tactics.
4. Palpatine – The Star Wars Saga
Want to get reelected to a political office? Start a war and you’re guaranteed a landslide vote. Take the case of Chancellor Palpatine, an average public servant who happens to dabble in the dark side of the Force. Only a man of incredible political prowess could blow up a boring trade dispute into a full-scale civil war, playing both sides and using the conflict as an excuse to grant himself emergency powers over the whole galaxy. His one (literal) downfall was his choice of running mate in Darth Vader.
3. Eleanor Iselin – The Manchurian Candidate
The puppet master style of government is always a popular choice, but if you’re going to take notes from someone, make it Mrs. Iselin. Since she wears the proverbial pants in her family, any decision she makes, her vice-Presidential candidate husband will follow. And with her Communist-funded son as a brainwashed assassin aimed at the future president, she’s one bullet away from being the de facto ruler of the free world. Add in plans to destroy her Communist benefactors, and you’ve got the perfect route to absolute power.
2. Joker – Batman: Dark Detective #1
You can’t argue with this campaign’s simplicity. Its motto? “Vote for Joker or I’ll kill you.” I mean really, who else are you going to vote for at that point? Plus there’s no demonizing the other candidate, no mudslinging or name-calling, no disrespect whatsoever. No broken promises, either; the Joker, as we well know, is a man of his word (at least when it comes to killing people).
1. Captain America – Captain America #250
This is my personal favorite campaign: the one that never got started. Rumors flew that Cap was running for president, and with friends urging him to consider, it was hard to say no. Ultimately, though, he realized that he was better suited to representing the American ideal than running a government. If more politicians realized they weren’t cut out to lead a nation, the political scene would be all the better for it.
What do you think? Did I miss any of your favorite campaign tactics? Which politicians, real or fictional, would you like to see become President? Cast your vote in the comments below!