As the summer meanders on, I can't help but wonder what happened to that old saw about "anybody can be president." When I was a lad, I never had designs on the office myself, but I was pleased and happy to think that Pat Paulsen had a real chance. For that matter, I was pretty sure that Alfred E. Neuman, Mad Magazine's gap-toothed mascot, was ineligible since he was merely a figment in the imaginations of "the usual gang of idiots" but I still looked forward to use his name as my write-in choice once I became of legal age.
Since then, I have harbored a deep and abiding affection for those people who would, for a laugh, toss their hat in the ring. At this point, I think I should confess that I still don't know if Roseanne Barr's campaign in 2012 was a carefully managed performance piece in the style of Andy Kaufman, or if her Green Party candidacy was real and true. And just like whether or not Andy is still alive, I don't know if checking the box next to Ms. Barr's name would have been a goof or my way of sticking it to the man. The joke, it seems, is on me even if I don't exactly get it.
I bought my Stewart/Colbert T-shirt and wore it proudly back in 2008 without any real hope of getting the Comedy Central Ticket to take back the White House. For a couple months this spring, a Curry For President sign held up during the NBA playoffs had me thinking alternatives to the major parties once again. Then I figured I would rather watch Steph Curry on the court than behind a podium. Which is pretty much how I feel about the notion of Bruce Springsteen holding any sort of elected office. He's the Boss when he's got a guitar in his hand, but if he was stuck behind a desk, would he be just another politician from Jersey?
If we must take our candidates from pop culture, I believe we are looking in the wrong places. Leave television behind and start looking at comic books. Four years ago, Marvel decided to spice things up by putting Captain America in the Oval Office. Why not elect a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve and the flag on his chest? Sure, if you kept reading for after that, it turns out that Steve Rogers was an agent for worse-than-Nazis-Hydra, which kind of makes that look like a bad idea, but for me hope springs eternal when it comes to Cap. He's as American as, well, Captains, and has charisma to spare.
And if that doesn't get your brains stirring for alternatives, consider this: The new Iron Man is a woman. An African-American woman. This is how things get done in the Marvel Universe. Don't like the future that spreads out ahead of you? Create a new one. Hillary of Donald? Who cares? I'm hoping for a return to an era where it wasn't the size of the candidate's Super PAC that mattered, but the size of the hair ball he was capable of expelling. Vote Bill The Cat in 2016.