After one of the most tumultuous elections in modern US history, we reflect on who we would have wanted to see run instead.
Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live always seems to thrive during an election year – especially one as divisive and somewhat ridiculous as this one. Having successfully satirised the 2008 election, with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler immortalised as Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton respectively, this time around SNL has truly outdone itself, with Kate McKinnon taking over Clinton’s role and Alec Baldwin playing Donald Trump.
Week after week, we have seen the most recent headline picked apart – and each imitation is spot on. Baldwin’s hand gestures are perfectly exaggerated, while his pout helps punctuate each statement in such a way that it strengthens even the most mediocre of jokes.
However, it is without a doubt McKinnon who steals the show. A couple of months ago, she won an Emmy for her work on SNL and it’s easy to see why. Although she has continually been entertaining since she started in 2012, her impression of Clinton has helped her gain a place amongst some of the best cast members in the show’s history. With every cold open, she impersonates Clinton with unnerving accuracy. Her awkward hand waving and immaculate accent adds to the humour of the scene, as – for a split second – you forget that this is a parody.
Baldwin and McKinnon play off each other impeccably – and, personally, I think this is best exemplified in SNL’s version of the third presidential debate. Between Baldwin’s delivery of “wrong, trademark” and McKinnon’s excitement at recounting Clinton’s work over the past 30 years, you almost want the election to continue, just so that we can see SNL continue to make fun of it. Almost.
Josiah “Jed” Bartlet – The West Wing
Bartlet for America. The single most iconic slogan in US election history brings to mind a man whose idealism, grit and determination has made countless Americans call him the best President they never had. It sounds hyperbolic, but that is genuinely the power that Josiah “Jed” Bartlet (Martin Sheen) from The West Wing exudes. If you don’t believe me on that, consider the fact that his electoral victories and policies have been used in actual political science classes on both sides of the Atlantic.
Bartlet is that rare fictional beast – a believably religious Democrat who ran his office with integrity and chose to work for the country at the cost of his own popularity and legacy. What makes him my pick for the best President ever is how he is painfully believable in his actions (no gun-toting shenanigans, thank you very much) while being unbelievably idealistic (a politician from the US who wants to work with Cuba!?). When Americans talk about wanting to be great again or the supremacy of their values, it is the likes of Bartlet who come to mind.
His professional career is the stuff Politics students like myself salivate over – dealing with global diplomacy, terrorism, budget crises, constitutional loopholes, electoral rivalries, and the occasional scandal – while his personal life – the complications of being part of the First Family, health issues, faith and conscience, and his own fiery personality – make him a truly well-rounded and multifaceted character. Sheen plays him with such aplomb and passion, it is difficult to separate the two, especially given the number of times he has returned in character to campaign for real life issues. And Aaron Sorkin’s writing has never been stronger. If a character can make you weep over a Latin monologue with no subtitles, you know he is special. If only he could have ran in 2016.
James Marshall – Air Force One
The newly elected US President Donald Trump talks a lot about “Making America Great Again” in very broad terms. Those who support him can fill in the holes of his rhetoric with their imagination, coming up with the most creative ways in which Donald will reinvigorate the USA, now the shell of a nation it once was (really?).
But even the most avid of Trump supporters has to have noticed that his track record isn’t precisely impeccable. From a number of his companies going bankrupt, to a university that some of its employees have declared as a “giant rip-off”, Trump has consistently shown that he is, in simple words, all talk and no action.
But you know who does have a striking track record, is an experienced politician and, most importantly, has almost singlehandedly shown he can stop a major terrorist attack by kicking Russian terrorist ass? Former U.S. President James Marshall A.K.A Harrison Ford from Air Force One.
Seriously, how has this man not been re-elected yet? In a world in constant fear of ISIS, who do we want in office – an orange-tinted businessman with abnormally small hands or do we want a tried and tested former US President who flings terrorists like Gary Oldman out of planes with the most badass line in cinema history?: “Get off my plane!”
And what’s best is Donald Trump walked out after being announced President to the freaking Air Force One theme song. He looks up to our man J. Marshall! It makes me question why he even chose Pence as his running mate. It certainly would’ve been smarter to allegedly give all domestic and foreign power to the man with clearly no Russian connections, except maybe when it comes to connecting them to parachutes before kicking them out of planes (did I say that already? I just really love that scene).
So I propose the American people rise up as one! Impeach the new President elect and put in his place the glorious, death-defying, former President of the United States of America Harrison Ford A.K.A James Marsha- what? Really? Sorry folks, I’ve just received confirmation that James Marshall is actually a “fictional character” and therefore does not fulfil the requirements to be US President. We’re stuck with reality for now. Unfortunately.
And for president of the Earth…The Doctor – Doctor Who
Clearly the best president in a fictional universe has to be… drumroll please… yes, you’ve guessed it, the Doctor from Doctor Who, in his starring role as President of Earth. Not who you were expecting? Really? Oh, ok. I’ll let him introduce himself for you:
“I’m the President of the World. I’m here to rescue people, and generally establish happiness all over the place. The Doctor, Doctor Funkenstein”. (from Season 8, Episode 12, Death in Heaven)
He doesn’t like the title, he doesn’t fully understand the job role, he never ran for the position but was appointed unanimously by governments across the world without his knowledge, and he’s not even technically a citizen of the Earth of which he is President. What better role model of a president could there be?!
Seriously, though, he gets his own plane. Oh, and he’s the chief executive officer of the human race, meaning he has complete authority over every nation state, and is the commander of every army on Earth. Definitely a role a soldier-hating man would appreciate being given. Which might be the reason he’s clearly the best person for the job – if he dislikes the military and violence, he’s less inclined to use them, and will attempt to find a better, more peaceful solution to the problem (or alternatively, an outlandish, mind- and time-bending solution that partially breaks the laws of physics). So actually, there’s a lot we can learn from our planet’s President – perhaps the next US President should take a leaf out of the Doctor’s book…
Media sourced from Columbia Pictures Co., John Wells Productions, BBC, and NBC Studios.
Featured image: Gage Skidmore