Darth Vader runs for president, who's next?

Parents know all too well how to use fictional characters from movies for lessons ("don't follow the dark side!") or as connectors to our kids ("I love Katniss, too!"). As news breaks that Darth Vader is running for president of Ukraine, one mom wonders, who's next? 

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    'Darth Vader,' the leader of the Internet Party of Ukraine, looks at a child in a pram at a street market near the Ukrainian Central Elections Commission in Kiev April 3, 2014.
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The fact that a man calling himself Darth Vader wants a spot on the ticket to run for president of Ukraine may spark the imagination of kids and parents to discuss which favorite fictional characters would make the best leaders.

“Darth Vader, in full costume, announced his candidacy on Saturday,” according to the Monitor. "Another candidate, an ex-world boxing champion threw his support behind billionaire candy maker Petro Poroshenko."

I suppose if you’re going to run for president of a nation in conflict with Russia, and are searching for a suitably intimidating opponent to President Vladimir Putin, then Lord Vader is a strong candidate.

However, instead of going to the “Dark Side,” I think this also gives parents an opportunity to mix lessons about politics and role models.

I asked my four sons, their friends, and other parents I know which fictional character they would cast their vote for to run a nation and got a pretty eclectic pool of candidates.

My oldest son, Zoltan, 20, doesn't hesitate, “Captain America. Because he always has people’s best interests at heart and won’t be corrupted,” he texted me when I asked for his nominee. “He is intelligent. His weapon of choice is a shield.”

My son Ian, 18, picks Dr. Who (as played by David Tennant) for consistently saving the planet and universe from tyranny while being fierce and funny.

My third son, Avery, 14, chooses the hero of the “Metroid” video game series, Samus Aran, basically, “Because she’s a total…,” then used a word that refers to the “badness” of her hind parts in a complimentary way not suitable for print.

My youngest son, Quin, 10, has a tough time choosing his candidate, so he fills the entire presidential and vice presidential ticket. His pick would either be the “My Little Pony” character Fluttershy, who stands up for her friends, or the Hulk, who is both a brilliant scientist and not to be trifled with.

I also asked some parents I know to add their input via Facebook comments.

Felice Burns of Red Bank, N.J., casts her vote for "X-Men" leader Professor Xavier because, “He cares, primarily and foremost, for the good of the people and is brave, wise and eloquent.”

Lee Elia of Norfolk, Va., chooses Capt. John Yossarian, the protagonist in Joseph Heller's novel “Catch-22” and its sequel “Closing Time.”

“He gets things done and is crazy enough to be normal,” says Mr. Elia.

Another parenting pal from Los Angeles, Cliff Redding, dad to a teenage girl, chose the same pick I was leaning toward, “Iron Man” hero Tony Stark.

Ironman, is intelligent, rich, relatively handsome, and ... has some AWESOME weaponry,” says Mr. Redding. “The COOLEST part about Ironman is that when he's not Ironman, he's a relatively regular guy who can relate to the masses on their level, because he can walk among them ... without folks going, ‘Hey! You're Ironman. What are YOU doing at the 7-Eleven?’”

While Erin Cook of Norfolk isn’t a parent, I liked her Facebook response to my question in which she chooses Katniss Everdeen from “The Hunger Games.”

“She's tough, she can be ruthless, she sees a larger picture, she knows how to play the diplomatic game-currying favor, earning respect,” says Ms. Cook.

One of my former journalism students, Kathryn Brown, says she would choose the female character Death, from “The Sandman” comic books series by Neil Gaiman because, “She's fair and understands balance.”

As a second choice, I would probably choose Matilda from the novel of the same title by Roald Dahl. Matilda is well read and finds she can move things with her thoughts.

Matilda, like Captain America, has known what it’s like to be bullied and so respects power when it’s her time to hold the reigns.

Her father tells her, “I'm right and you're wrong, I'm big and you're small, and there's nothing you can do about it.”

When it’s Matilda’s turn to do something about injustice she sets things right without becoming mad with power.

I recommend asking your child who he or she would choose. Maybe have a little campaign at home and explore the qualities of each potential candidate.

It’s an opportunity to use the force of international politics for the good of your child’s education and a means of getting to know how your kids think about the world and who runs it.

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