Mike Morris, The Ides of March
DON’T: Hire a bunch of power-hungry cynics to run your campaign
Just kidding! How else are you supposed to get anywhere? More to the point: Don’t get the intern pregnant. Because oh my gosh, why on earth would you do that?
Josiah Bartlet, The West Wing
DO: Take advice from a cocktail napkin if you have to
In the fall of 1997, Leo McGarry wrote “Bartlet for America” on what was, obstensively, a piece of trash. But that gesture wound up persuading his best friend Josiah Bartlet, then-governor of New Hampshire, to run for president. Just think about the potential that would have gone to waste if The West Wing was actually just about the first family of New England. Sure, there would have been some great foliage, but fictional Americans would have gone without Social Security reform, the first female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, or the awe-inspiring theatrics of C.J. Cregg.
Frank Underwood, House of Cards
DON’T: Do anything like Frank Underwood
Maybe just print out his personal and professional biography and do the exact opposite of everything.
President Beck, Deep Impact
DO: Learn how to keep calm in an insane emergency
We’re not really sure what kind of meditation and yoga practice President Beck has going in Deep Impact, but whatever it was seemed to work extremely well.
Claire Underwood, House of Cards
DON’T: Marry a villainous, corrupt politician with a taste for murder
In the world of House of Cards, Claire Underwood holds the highest office in the land because of a great many technicalities and some very serious failings on the part of her husband, the former President. It may be convenient for the narrative, but we’re willing to bet Claire would have found herself in this position of power without her husband doing it first. She shouldn’t have to answer for her husband’s mistakes, but living without that baggage would make her job a lot easier.
Andrew Shepherd, The American President
DO: Follow your heart
Politics is dirty — it’s deals and tricks and tradeoffs and compromises. Love is messy — it’s give and take and sacrifice and, uh, also compromises. You would think combining them would be a disaster of presidential proportions but maybe, just maybe, one can help you cut through the noise and see the other with clear eyes. Maybe you really can have it all! This is America! In the ‘90s!
James Marshall, Air Force One
DO: Learn how to fly a plane
It will make everything a lot easier if (when?) Air Force One gets taken over by murderous traitors.
Elizabeth "Bess" McCord, Madam Secretary
DO: Avoid war with Russia
Seriously. At all costs. Especially if doing so also prevents a probable World War III.
Fitzgerald Grant, Scandal
DON’T: Promise anyone you’ll quit politics to move to Vermont and make jam
You’ll never actually get out — you’ve got too much skin in the game — and instead you’ll drive everyone crazy with all the dramatic back-and-forth.
President Sawyer, White House Down
DO: Befriend Channing Tatum
There’s no pair of biceps better equipped to help you out in a national emergency.
Selina Meyer, Veep
DO: Hire the best assistants money can buy
Selina Meyer is a force to be reckoned with, but there’s no denying that her aides, Gary Walsh and Amy Brookheimer, are not only a key part of Veep‘s entertainment but quite literally the only thing keeping the Meyer ship afloat. How much one should force said assistants to grovel at one’s feet is a debate for another time.
Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation
DO: Eat your waffles
You know what they say: A waffle a day keeps the angry constituents away
Mackenzie Allen, Commander in Chief
DON’T: Let anyone tell you you’re not qualified to be President just because you’re a woman
David Palmer, 24
DO: Keep your enemies close and Jack Bauer closer
Just trust us one this one. Everyone has a Jack Bauer in their life — identify him immediately and then never let him out of your sight.
The Prime Minister, Love Actually
DO: Stand up to bullies
Just because you’re the Prime Minister doesn’t mean other people won’t try to intimidate you. Don’t let them — even if they are the leader of the free world. (A bully of a POTUS! Can you imagine?) And then when you’ve looked that jerk in the eye and shot down his weak attempt to push you around with a rousing speech about David Beckham and Harry Potter? Go ahead and dance about it. You’ve earned it.
President Snow, The Hunger Games
DON’T: Underestimate girls
Girls don’t actually care if you’re a sadistic fascist with perfectly groomed facial hair and the power of the twelve-tiered institution behind you. You think Panem is your playground for cruelty, President Snow? Let me ask you this: Who run the world?
Thomas J. Whitmore, Independence Day
DO: Take public-speaking lessons
There’s going to come a time in which you need to get on a microphone/bullhorn/etc. and deliver a monologue that sends chills through the spines of every American (in a good way). Don’t believe us? We’ll let President Whitmore speak for himself:
“Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And we will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. Mankind; that word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the 4th of July and you will once again be fighting for our freedom. Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution, but from annihilation. We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist. And should we win the day, the 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice: ‘We will not go quietly into the night!’ ‘We will not vanish without a fight!’ ‘We’re going to live on!’ ‘We’re going to survive!’ Today we celebrate our Independence Day!'”
Cornelius Fudge, Harry Potter
DON’T: Get attached to the glamour
Power can be glamorous, yes. Governing, however, is not — not when you’re really doing the work. Fudge couldn’t make himself take a hard look at the real problems and try to effect change because he loved his Minister of Magic business cards and expensive flashy bowler hats; he couldn’t stand to make enemies of the rich and pureblooded, or to get his hands dirty correcting a corrupted system. Do better, Fudge. The fate of the Wizarding World is too high a price to pay for your vanity and weakness.