Any superhero movie junky can tell you that movie superheros need well developed supervillains to pit against. This makes for gripping stories and, more importantly, stark contrast to help set off virtuous values of the good guys who are fighting for things like…truth, justice and the American way.
National politics do not always offer a stark contrast in good or evil. When bills are titled something so positively good, such as “No Child Left Behind Act” (who can disagree with that premise?), it is hard to argue about the details of policy within the bill which help some people while hurting others, and may ultimately leave whole communities behind. Or the recent override of President Obama’s veto against allowing Americans to sue Saudi Arabia in relation to 9/11. What sounds good may actually have undesired consequences. Politics are muddy. Political work is hard work that does not easily fit into a soundbite, a 2-hour feature film, or even a one-year election cycle.
For several decades Democrats have raised alarms and fought against the issues plaguing positive progress in our country which are now so clearly voiced in the Trump candidacy for president: unchecked greed, racism, sexism, xenophobism, etc. Trump has crystalized, in the form of a single perosnality, a host of issues and ills. For Democrats, he is their well defined supervillain: mean, greedy, and yet captivatingly caustic, a bully so confident in his power that he states explicitly those things that lie underneath the surface of Republican rhetoric.
Well, Democrats, this is your moment to have national attention on these issues. Because as soon as Trump fades from public life, it may be the likes of Mike Pence, his running mate, who take us back to a path of complacency by his pretty face, calm persona, how smoothly he lies and how he deflects answering questions, as we saw in “undecided’s” response to his performance in the vice-presidential debate. Pence is simply not a Supervillain who can colorfully help us see in clear relief the need to fight for truth, justice and the American way, because it requires extra steps on our part to fact check and actually pay attention to the details of what he is saying over time. And the other likely candidates for Supervillain, such as Fox News’ Murdoch, the Koch Brothers and others may require too much exposition to fit into the soundbites and You Tube videos Americans squeeze into their busy lives and limited attention.