It usually doesn’t last for very long, but every once in a while the bad guys actually get to win in comic books. Our heroes are brainwashed, outsmarted or physically overpowered. Sometimes they are banished in time or even “killed”, only to miraculously find their way back or be resurrected to ultimately save the day. Alternate futures and parallel universes are used to depict dystopian realities where Dr Doom or Apocalypse rule unchallenged. In the Old Man Logan story line that the new Wolverine movie appears based on, The Red Skull has appointed himself President of the United States. In the DC Universe, longtime Superman nemesis Lex Luthor was actually elected President and remained in power for several years.
No matter who wins next week’s election, The United States is about to elect their first supervillain as President. They won’t be using mind control, Infinity Stones, or reality warping henchmen. The winner will have attained their power by preying upon our fear.
According to the Chapman University Survey on American Fears, 70% of the people surveyed admitted to being to being deeply worried about terrorism, economic collapse, cyber warfare perpetuated by rival governments and corporate trading of personal information. Corruption of government officials was the most highly cited concern.
The American people aren’t looking for a leader, they are looking for a protector.
Donald Trump has been riding the wave of that fear, directing it towards scapegoats like immigrants and liberal economic policies and convincing his supporters that only he has the ability to save us. Non stop claims that Hillary Clinton “created ISIS” and other nonsense used to label her the enemy in an “us against them” mentality that provides order to uncertainty.
The Clinton campaign has been less overt but the message is the same, continually reminding us of how great the stakes are and using Trump’s lack of experience and toddler temperament to convince us to overlook her shortcomings for the sake of the greater good.
A poll by the Associated Press in September showed that 56% of Americans are deeply afraid of a Donald Trump Presidency. 43% said they were afraid of a Clinton win. 18% of respondents said they are afraid of either candidate winning.
Are our fears rational? There is undoubtedly much that we should be concerned about, to be vigilant against. I’ve stated before that I believe this to be one of the most important elections in our history .
It’s also going to be one of the most disappointing. No matter who wins we’ve exposed a massive rift in the beliefs and ideals of the people of this country. One that won’t be healed soon. As much as we are all looking forward to the end of this political cycle, this level of hyperbole, rhetoric and hatred won’t just go away on Wednesday morning.
The fact is that most Americans are living in one of the safest places and times in the history of human civilization. Hopefully four years from now we will be presented with candidates that we can feel comfortable voting for, that we believe can make our county better, not because we fear that their opponent will make things worse.
Supervillains can be a lot of fun. Loki, Heath Ledger’s Joker, even Negan on The Walking Dead. It really sucks to have to vote for one though.