Now that we’re just over two months away from the general election in November, I though it’d be a perfect time to examine a past election – which never happened because it’s completely fictional, and took place in an alternate reality to that fictional universe. Back in 1981, Marvel comics’ The Watcher asked the question, “What if Captain America had been elected President?”
This thrilling issue (What if? #26) examines Captain America’s run for the White House after being asked to join the New Populist Party as their presidential candidate. This was not an easy decision for Cap, and he sought the advice of three of the smartest members in Avengers history. Iron Man thought it was kinda ridiculous, while Yellowjacket, Beast, and Vision remained silent on the issue. It’s important to note that none of them would’ve made a very good running mate: Tony Stark (Iron Man) had his alcohol problems, Hank Pym (Yellowjacket) beat his wife, and it could be argued that neither Beast nor Vision were technically human – a requirement at the time that was necessary to become President of the United States
He eventually decided that America needed a change, and on the evening of the NPP convention Cap threw his cowl into the running. The media went wild with the news, and rumors soon floated around that Spiderman would be Cap’s top pick as a running mate. Eventually he tapped Washington outsider, Senator Andrew Jackson Hawk to be his veep. Being that Captain America has a high level SHIELD clearance, the vetting process for a running mate would have been quite thorough (The GOP could’ve used Nick Fury’s help last week when vetting Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin). Their campaign slogan, “America’s choice for the 80’s” was quickly plastered all over New York City, since that’s where 90% of the events in the Marvel Universe take place.
Despite their appreciation of Captain America’s service to the country, the opposing candidates were quick to dismiss his candidacy in the media. Jimmy Carter cited his lack of political experience, while Ronald Regan suggested that a masked man doesn’t instill much trust in the average America voter. Cap held a rally and announced that if elected, he would remove his mask for the world to see. It was noted in the press that Captain America had yet to state his position on the political uprising in the South American country of San Pedro. But that would have to wait…the election was tomorrow! (You gotta time love compression in comics.)
Captain America won the election by a landslide, having a clear lead in both electoral and popular votes. That evening the nation celebrated the election of this country’s first superhero president and African-American vice president. The inaguration came quickly (the next page!) and Captain America was sworn in as President of the United States. He kept his promise to the American people, and revealed his secret identity to be that of Steve Rogers. In the months that followed, President America gained the respect of the nation by creating a network of solar collection satellites, and “freeing America from the tyranny of foreign oil.”
It was a prosperous time for America, but in San Pedro people were struggling to rise up against a fanatical dictator. (This is where the issue veers into comic book mayhem) Against the advice from his cabinet and Vice President Hawk, Captain America went to South America to confront the dictator. It turns out to be a trap set by Cap’s arch-nemeis, the Red Skull, and the President is captured. The Skull plotted to use the solar satellites as a weapon against the Washington DC. With Nick Fury’s help, Cap escapes and redirects the beam back upon the South American base, vaporizing himself and the Red Skull in the process. The nation mourns (The Thing was a complete mess at the funeral), and a statue is erected in Arlington cemetery in memory of America’s greatest hero and President, Steve Rogers. Inscribed at the base of statue was the following verse:
“I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith. — 2 Timothy, 4:7″
At the end of the story, The Watcher noted, “But do not mourn for him, rather for America, a country bereft of her greatest champion…mourn for us all…but see that his death was not in vain.”