Modern Age is pleased to offer some relief that nonetheless has a measure of relevance. We asked some twenty of our friends and contributors to weigh in on the best choice for president—but not the best choice on the ballot this November. Instead, we asked them to choose the best character from all of creative literature for the role. The result, we hope, is a symposium that’s diverting and amusing, but that may also reveal something valuable about the nature of presidential leadership and the politics of a free society. It certainly reveals some underlying tendencies in conservative and libertarian thought today, although our contributors are not all so readily classified.
Our friends were free to select any character from any book, film, play, television program, poem, or folk tale—and we even let them enter the equivalent of a “write-in” candidate who didn’t fit the formal criteria, if they preferred to imagine some other impossible (yet illuminating) scenario, as some did. So here is a different sort of election survey, for a fictional president, in the service of real principles. —Daniel McCarthy.
There are two movies I use to explain Washington, D.C., to those unfamiliar with how the city truly works. One is, perhaps predictably, The Godfather. The other? Tina Fey’s masterpiece of teen-girl bitchiness, Mean Girls. Together, the movies’ plots and characters capture the essential nature of what makes D.C. function: the revenge-driven, eye-for-an-eye Mafia-style politics that exist alongside the petty rules that enforce the hierarchies of a high school lunchroom.
Vote wrong? You can’t sit with us! Don’t raise us enough money for the party? You broke my heart, Fredo. Everyone wants to make you a deal you can’t refuse while secretly plotting to push you in front of a bus. Should you violate the city’s unwritten and unspoken rules (on Wednesdays, we wear pink!), revenge will be served (cold, of course). As a senator, you may have elected those party leaders, but don’t be jealous. They can’t help it that they’re popular.
We’ve spent years governing Washington aspirationally, but perhaps we should govern it as it actually is: a giant high school with deadly, high-priced vendettas. Put the Godfather himself, Vito Corleone, in the Oval Office to manage the political alliances, while the head of the Plastics, Regina George, takes on the role of vice president to execute the side-eye tyrannies that keep the proletariat in line.
Washington, D.C., is about two things: power and pettiness. Vito and Regina are thus an unstoppable force. Kiss the ring. And slay, kween.
Rachel Bovard is the senior director of policy at the Conservative Partnership Institute.