Literary Characters As President: The Good & Bad
It’s Election Day! Which means you need to go vote if you live in the United States–that’s my public service announcement for the day.
And, so as not to offend my international audience, please insert “prime minister” or “king” or “emperor” in place of “president” in the title of today’s post if you would like.
With the presidential theme in mind, today’s post is simple: What characters from literature would make a good president or a bad president?
Obviously, a good president must be a strong leader–decisive, convicting, charismatic, articulate, and so on. He or she needs to be morally sound—although the definition of sound morals might vary.
So here’s who I propose would be excellent—and awful—presidential leaders:
Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings): With Gandalf as president, our defense budget would be zero. We wouldn’t need one. “Oh, North Korea, you’re building nukes? That’s cute. Now watch Gandalf turn your little bomb into a glass of orange juice. Here, Samwise, have a glass of orange juice with your second breakfast.”
Atticus Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird): This one’s easy. He’s an attorney, a good father, a man with morals and integrity who stands up for the downtrodden. Plus, his name is Atticus Finch. That’s like the power name of all power names. “Finch is a cinch!” “Don’t be a winch! Vote Finch!”
Scarlett O’ Hara (Gone With The Wind): If you think Hillary Clinton is tough, you should see Scarlett O’ Hara in office. She would be like a female bull running wild through a china store. And I don’t really know what that means. Point is, she’s emotional and manipulative and domineering. In other words, a great politician!
Swede Levov (American Pastoral): He’s a charismatic ex-athlete with family problems and a rebellious daughter. Isn’t all of that a prerequisite to running for office?
Tom Joad (The Grapes of Wrath): Sure, he killed a man and spent some time in jail. Sure, he’s got a vicious temper. But that boy loves his mama. And he even goes on the run and sacrifices himself so his family can survive. That’s servant leadership right there.
Scarlett O’ Hara (Gone With The Wind): Wait a minute, wasn’t she in the list of possible good presidents too? Yeah, she was. What was I thinking? She’s Scarlett O Hara. What type of awful drapes would she put in the Oval Office? How many husbands would she run through during her four-year term? How many times would she say “fiddle dee dee!” during the State of the Union? That’s just unacceptable.
The Judge (Blood Meridian): He threw a freaking puppy over a bridge. Imagine his domestic policies: “You don’t like my 80% income tax? Off with your leg! Need health care for your amputated leg? Screw you!” Not only that, but our canine population would suffer greatly under The Judge’s rule. That said, I think we need a bald president at some point.
Voldemoort (Harry Potter): Obviously, if Voldemoort got elected, we’d all be living in some alternate reality where no one cares how ugly the president is. The problem with Voldemoort is that, as soon as he takes office, he would kill everyone ever. So he wouldn’t be the president of anything anymore because everyone would be dead.
Clyde Griffiths (An American Tragedy): Could there be a worse president than the murderer Clyde Griffiths? He’s a coward. He’s a liar. He’s a manipulative, smooth-talker. He’s a mooch. He’s stupid. He beats up women. And, oh yeah, he’s a murderer. This guy is one of the most miserable, pathetic characters in literature.
Jack Merridew (Lord of the Flies): First of all, he’s like 12. So there’s a problem right off the bat. Then, he’s absolutely obsessed with killing pigs. And he has a mean streak right up there with The Judge and Voldemoort. But, again, he’s 12. So as long as we have a Vice President who can beat him up, then we might be able to make it with Jack Merridew as commander in chief. Even though he’s 12.
Out of all 10 of these characters, I’d be totally up for Gandalf as president more than any of the others. He’s wise and honest and caring…and magical. He loves hobbits, and that’s such an important part of any domestic policy. He’d be such a great president, don’t you think?
What other characters from literature would make good or bad presidents?