11 Literary Characters Who Should Run For President
One’s a pig, one’s a five-year-old, and one’s a cocaine-using jerk, but hey: the bar is low
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President’s Day was conceived as a day to honor particular past presidents. But in this crucially important midterm election year (you’ve checked that your registration is current, right?), we’ve decided to use the opportunity to think about our dream leaders of the free world. Here are some of the fictional characters we think could do a great job in politics—or at least a better job than our current options.
Snowball, Animal Farm by George Orwell
Though he’s eventually defeated and scapegoated by a more violent-minded pig, Snowball is the equal-opportunity leader that the farm needs. He gets everyone reading and simplifies ideologies in order to ensure that all animals on the farm understand the plans for the future. He is an orator beyond the oink, one that can unify and rile up the people and use words as a tool for persuasion rather than creating conflict—you wouldn’t find Snowball in the middle of a Twitter rant. Concerned that a pig can’t legally be president? We invite you to look at the current administration.
Sean Phillips, Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle
What this country needs is a President who will speak out against the horrors of gun violence. Sean Phillips survived a (self-inflicted) gunshot to the face as a young adult, and his subsequent guilt and isolation might give him the perspective and empathy a politician needs to get something done.
Hermione Granger, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Hermione Granger is whip-smart, a cultural chameleon (she was raised by Muggles but thrives in the magical world), and has been shutting down mansplaining since before we called it mansplaining. She understands the importance of reading and the arts (or at least the Dark Arts), and you would never find the founder of S.P.E.W. cutting funding for important organizations that support people living in poverty.
Celie, The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Though she comes from far less privilege than the typical presidential candidate, Celie has survived and triumphed, coming out victorious and learning how to love herself through the process. She would be a strong candidate for those who have survived sexual assault and an example of how to find community through adversity. In this time of “thoughts and prayers,” it would also be nice to have a politician whose faith is more than a cynical pose.
Sherlock Holmes, the Sherlock Holmes series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
We’ve had movie stars become President, so why not a detective? Sherlock Holmes’ skills and legacy could make him an ideal candidate; he’s famous, brilliant, sought-after, and so, so detail-oriented. Sure, Watson describes his knowledge of politics as “feeble,” and he’s also a huge asshole, but these things are no longer barriers to the presidency. He’d probably have to cool it on the casual cocaine, though.
The narrator, Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
The narrator of Ellison’s novel is smart, a skilled orator, and knows firsthand how cruel this country can be to young black men. It is through his passionate speeches that he is picked up by the Brotherhood, where he strives to serve his community in Harlem. Although he’d have a lot to overcome—the bigotry of voters, his involvement in a riot, the uncertain motives of the Brotherhood itself—by the end of the novel he’s looking for a way to speak for other downtrodden people rendered invisible by society. What better way than for this community organizer to run for president?
Clarissa Dalloway, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Clarissa Dalloway would be the cool, calm, collected President who would react well under pressure since she has come to terms with the reality of death. Class- and propriety-conscious Clarissa would also be a master of diplomacy, keeping foreign affairs running smoothly.
Matilda, Matilda by Roald Dahl
At five and a half years old, Matilda is a little too young to legally run, but you can already tell that her brilliant and serious mind and lack of tolerance for bullies would do the country a world of good. And though we’ve never had a leader with telekinesis, we’re guessing it would come in handy in dozens of ways. Unfortunately, Matilda was born in England, so she’s probably out—perhaps she can be the first telekinetic secretary of defense?
The Man in the Shack, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams
We’ve already gone on record suggesting that the best president would be a president that had zero interest in ruling over anybody—or, as Douglas Adams put it, “those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.” The only solution: a solipsistic ruler, who doesn’t believe anything is real besides himself, though he’s willing to suspend disbelief when it comes to cats and whiskey. That’s a slogan many millennials can stand behind.
Jing-mei (June) Woo, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
After June’s mother dies of a sudden brain aneurysm, June steps in to take her place at the table of the Joy Luck Club—and comes to terms with her mother’s memory by reconnecting with her lost siblings in China. This ability to take the reins, step into a gap in leadership, and move forward with extreme gumption is what can save families in this country. And it would be great to have a president with experience understanding and uniting immigrant families, rather than splitting them apart.
Esperanza Cordero, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Esperanza’s story speaks to a group that is destined to be a quarter of the U.S. population in the next 50 years—not to mention any child that has felt the need to leave their hometowns for something “greater.” Esperanza, whose name means hope, spends her life coming to terms with the pressures that keep down women, specifically Chicanas. Hmm, hope, presidential campaign… why are we feeling so nostalgic right now?