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Leslie Knope, Jean-Luc Picard and Kermit the Frog.

A recent thread on Ask Reddit posed the question: Which fictional character would make a great U.S.A. president?

Some answers were simple and lighthearted. Others were drawn out and thoughtful. Some characters are well-known. Others are a bit more obscure. Regardless, it’s a fun read and offers an insightful way to look at what it really means to be a leader.


Optimus Prime—Transformers

transformers optimus prime GIF Giphy

This comment was so passionate I had to keep the entire thing:

He's the perfect balance of introspection, deliberation, decisive action, compassion, toughness, fighting spirit, humility, and inspires others to greatness not because of his ego, but because he sincerely wants the best for everyone. He's eloquent enough to work with intellectuals, strong enough to keep corruption out, hard working and honest enough to connect with and inspire the working classes, and an absolute paragon of ethics. When it comes down to it, he puts his own ass on the line without hesitation. I'd vote for Optimus Prime. I'd work on his campaign staff. I'd canvas for Optimus. I'd fight his fights. He's the heroic leader we need. I wish he were here.” – Cephelopodia

Jean-Luc Picard—Star Trek: The Next Generation

jean luc picard, star trek next generation Well Done Reaction GIF Giphy

“Make it so” is an awfully good campaign slogan.

“This character has informed so much of what I think of as the political ideal that's it's almost absurd.” – Tactius_AMP

Aragorn—The Lord of the Rings

lotr, aragorn the lord of the rings GIF Giphy

The King of Gondor rallied some intense loyalty and humorous political banter.

He would have my allegiance until my sons, sons die.” – Radda210

Well, he’s got eight years.” – AutismFractal

Captain Raymond Holt—Brooklyn 99

brooklyn 99 Season 8 Nbc GIF by Brooklyn Nine-Nine Giphy

The stoic, pragmatic and serious-to-the-point-of-absurd police captain would bring a level of sophistication to the role. Plus he stands up for what he thinks is right.

The only drawback is we might have the more frivolous holidays cancelled. Like Christmas.

President Josiah Bartlet—The West Wing

west wing, aaron sorkin The West Wing Lesson GIF by HBO Max Giphy

During 2020 with all the presidential speeches that sounded non presidential, I kept thinking that we needed a couple of Josiah Barlet speeches during that time.” – southdakotagirl

Uncle Iroh—Avatar: The Last Airbender

avatar last air bender, uncle iroh Animated GIF Giphy

For those not familiar with "Avatar: The Last Airbender," Uncle Iroh was a fan favorite, arguably for being the show’s moral compass and source of wisdom. Which was pretty remarkable, considering he was technically on the “bad side.”

Calm, wise, friendly and best of all he already got all that war crime stuff out of his system years ago. He’d be the best us President in history.” – Lord Noodles

…Iroh is the benevolent father we need, with quiet dignity and terrifying power.” – spaceman_spyff

Kermit the Frog—The Muppets

muppets, kermit Press Conference Kermit GIF Giphy

The lovers, the dreamers, and me would vote for him” – DrOddcat

Steve Rogers—Captain America

captain america, steve rodgers captain america GIF Giphy

I mean, he does stand for America’s ideals like no other. He has integrity, courage, honesty and let’s not forget stamina. He can do this all day, after all.

Leslie Knope—Parks and Recreation

parks and rec, leslie knope Season 1 Leslie GIF by Parks and Recreation Giphy

Leslie wouldn’t get sucked in to corruption. She would negotiate and compromise, as one should, but she wouldn’t “make deals” like most politicians. Above all else, she would always be honest!” – Happy_Camper45

And she has binders of plans for everything” – Big_Economy_1729

(Sadly, there were very few female characters I saw on the thread. I’m hoping I just didn’t scroll far down enough.)

Last but not least … Captain Planet

captain planet, 90s cartoons Captain Planet Film GIF Giphy

Maybe then we’d take climate change seriously.

Okay, look, maybe it’s impossible for a real-life person to 100% embody these heroic traits. But that’s the beauty of fiction: It reveals our ultimate potential (for both good and bad). It can’t always take into account all the complexities and inevitable drawbacks of the human condition. It can, however, inspire us to be better.

Maybe there is no President Picard or President Rogers out there, but seeing them portrayed in our stories is still important. Observing the virtues they represent (and let’s not forget that they are representations and symbols, rather than multidimensional human beings, after all) might help inspire the next generation of heroes, leaders and politicians. That’s what well-written characters do.

In the meantime, I’ll start working on my campaign for "Ted Lasso"’s Keeley Jones for President.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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