Look, I generally make it a point to avoid talking about politics on my blog. But I can confidently say that I am struggling with this year’s presidential election. For reasons which are my own, I have a very difficult time supporting either of the major party candidates. For anyone who knows me even a little, that should not come as a surprise.
When I find that the real world is too serious or a tad too depressing, I allow my mind to retreat into my extensive memory of movies and television. In doing this, I’ve come up with six fictional presidents that would make better options than the two we have coming up on November 8.6. David Palmer – 24
President David Palmer, played by Dennis Haysbert, appeared in the first five seasons of 24. In the first season, he wasn’t yet the president. He was merely a senator who was running for president. The next three seasons saw him during his presidency. Knowing that each season of 24 took place over a 24-hour period, it may not be fair to judge this president based on what we saw on TV. After all, we only saw three days out of his four years in office. But those were some pretty stressful days. And he handled them well, assassination attempts and all.5. Thomas J. Whitmore – Independence Day
President Whitmore, portrayed by Bill Pullman, is a former fighter pilot who happens to be President of the United States when we discover that extra-terrestrial life exists. We find this out because they’re not very subtle about arriving in our atmosphere and then systematically destroying every major metropolitan area on the planet. We don’t get to see
much any of his politics or policies, but he’s the kind of president who isn’t afraid to make tough decisions and get his own hands dirty in fighting the good fight. And who doesn’t get chills during that speech in the predawn hours of July 4?4. James Marshall – Air Force One
Along the same lines of President Whitmore, we have Harrison Ford’s President Marshall. This guy is a Vietnam vet and a Medal of Honor recipient. So when terrorists manage to take over the president’s airplane, they soon find that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. Yes, the terrorist group manages to take down the plane in the end, but not before Marshall goes all John McClane on these guys by single-handedly taking out Sirius Black and saving a lot of lives in the process.3. Tom Beck – Deep Impact
Morgan Freeman plays President Tom Beck in another difficult situation. Much like President Whitmore, this president must deal with the potential annihilation of humanity. Unlike Whitmore, President Beck cannot just climb into an F-18 and fire sidewinder missiles at the comet that is on a collision course with earth. We don’t see much of this guy’s policies either, other than his role in covering up the fact that a comet is threatening to cause an extinction level event. I’m actually okay with that domestic policy. No sense in causing a panic when there’s a plan in place to divert the gigantic chunk of rock and ice.2. Jed Bartlett – The West Wing
I’ve only recently been watching this show. Of all the presidents on this list, Jed Bartlett (Martin Sheen) is probably the one whose policies we are able to see most clearly thanks to this show following his staff around for so many years of his presidency. I’m actually only in season two, thanks to Netflix, but so far I like the guy. I probably don’t agree with everything the man stands for, but I’d be okay with him in the Oval Office.1. Andrew Shepherd – The American President
I kind of feel like this movie was the trial run for The West Wing, seeing as how Aaron Sorkin wrote both. Michael Douglas plays the role of Andrew Shepherd spectacularly and, in my opinion, makes the audience genuinely care about what this president cares about. The movie takes place over the course of only a couple months as Shepherd comes into a reelection year. We see him deal with an attack on an American installation by a foreign government. We see his staff working with Congress in an attempt to get a piece of legislation passed. And we see him date a lobbyist, an action which manages to send his previously high approval rating into the basement. We also see him give a heck of a speech off the cuff at the end of the movie in dealing with a political opponent who is little more than a playground bully. Honestly, I think you could replace the name Bob Rumson with a certain Republican presidential candidate and the speech would be extremely relevant to the real world of 2016.
I’m certain there are fictional world leaders that I have neglected to put on this list. Who are the presidents that you like from movies and television?
And, look, I know it’s easy to complain about our real life options. But, to my readers in the US, I implore you to get out and vote. Read up on the candidates (even the third and fourth party ones) and make an informed decision. Our ability to vote is a right that people have died for us to have over the course of more than 200 years. Let’s not allow those sacrifices to be in vain.