The 2016 presidential race isn’t the first to be populated by shrill cartoons and space-brained weirdos: For the last few decades, fictitious characters from the world of TV, comic books, and comic-strips have been getting into the political fray, their efforts…
The 2016 presidential race isn’t the first to be populated by shrill cartoons and space-brained weirdos: For the last few decades, fictitious characters from the world of TV, comic books, and comic-strips have been getting into the political fray, their efforts occasionally picking up IRL grassroots traction. But just how electable would these pop-culture contenders be if they decided to join this year’s race? We’re glad you asked; here’s the official line on each, from paramilitary masterminds to friends of flightless waterfowl.
Election year: 2008
Pros: Much like Mitt Romney, who campaigned on his years of business experience, Cobra Commander can point to several ambitious private-sector efforts, such as a giant pyramid of darkness constructed with the aid of three super-powerful cubes (or something like that; Cobra’s plans were about as decipherable as those of Bain Capital).
Cons: His infamous temper would be a buzzkill for voters looking for a candidate with even an inkling of relatability. And though the Commander’s launched several military efforts over the years, his complete inability to actually kill an enemy wouldn’t sit well with war-hawks.
Odds of winning: 20-1
Howard the Duck
Election year: 1976
Background check: One of Marvel’s most misunderstood characters launched a presidential run during the bicentennial year, which found the grumpy, existentially aching duck stumping with the Fantastic Four and glowering on his own buttons.
Pros: Certainly, Howard’s tell-it-like-it-is outspokenness reminds us of another wildly coiffed candidate who’s found an audience this year. And his anti-pollution stance would no doubt endear him to ecology-minded voters.
Con: Branding. Though the comic book Howard the Duck was a wily, hilarious provocateur, the Howard who appeared in the 1986 film version was a dead-eyed, awkwardly stage-strutting rock-and-roller (think Lee Atwater, only slightly more life-like). Even a turn in the 2014 hit Guardians of the Galaxy likely wouldn’t improve Howard’s lame-duck status among older voters.
Odds of winning: 8-1
Randee of the Redwoods
Election year: 1988
Background check: The guitar-shredding, freedom-rocking Randee was a fixture of MTV in the late ‘80s, eventually embarking on a heavily promoted presidential run, which found him on a 14-city tour in which he pitched his “Just say ‘Whoa’!” platform.
Pro: Randee’s pledge to visit every voter personally would no doubt endear him to aging members of the electorate, who—despite their frail appearances—are still vibrant, vital human beings who just want someone to drop in to say “hello” now and then. Plus, he could name Jimmy the Cab Driver to the Secretary of Transportation post.
Cons: Randee’s acid-casualty status could lead to some strange debate moments, and his tendency to draw murderous stalkers would no doubt prove to be a distraction. Yet his biggest challenge would be convincing young voters to take a chance on yet another drug-dabbling white-male boomer who moonlights as a musician.
Odds of winning: 6-1
Election year: 1980
Background check: Before taking Manhattan, the porcine puppet landed on the cover of Life as a presidential contender—a move that made her the only woman in the 1980 race, and one that predated Geraldine Ferraro’s vice-presidential run by a good four years. If you were around back then, you probably had one of these on your suspenders.
Pros: An early-‘80s incident in which she helped thwart a group of British jewel-thieves burnished her tough-on-crime credentials and her international-diplomacy acumen. And her real-world, behind-the-counter work experience would no doubt help shore up working-class support.
Cons: Her possible French citizenship is one potential trouble-spot. And though it’s unfair to delve into a candidates’ personal life, the press will have a field day with a certain troubled long-term relationship from her past.
Odds of winning: 2-1
Bill the Cat and Opus
Election years: 1984/1988/2016
Background check: The Bloom County duo—consisting of a barely alive cat and a mild-mannered, tuba-playing penguin—has launched three separate national efforts, despite being frequently undermined by Bill’s chemically enhanced campaign style. Their ’80s runs inspired a meadow’s worth of grassroots–ready merch, but often ended in heartache. Now that they actually are in the mix again, will their latest campaign end in thrills, or thbbfts?
Pros: Bill’s pro-drug history (he spent years free-basing Tender Vittles) has aged from asset to liability, especially among young progressives. And Opus and Bill’s ability to unite animals of every species—from groundhogs to cockroaches to basselopes—is proof of their populist appeal.
Cons: Opus’ unchecked lust for Diane Sawyer could hurt his appeal among female voters. And Bill’s perpetually zonked state-of-mindlessness will likely alarm voters who aren’t ready to have a comatose cat get access to our nukes … but then again, isn’t a comatose cat exactly what America wants nowadays? This is the most plausible cartoon team since Perot-Stockdale! Get ready to paint the White House “Ack!”
Odds of winning: Even
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