Yesterday, we discussed the Green Lantern's announcement to run for mayor of DC. Well, it looks like the election is heating up, as more candidates have entered the race. According to a Robot6 post today:
As it turns out, the sites are part of the New Organizing Institute’s BootCamp, where attendees are tasked with running their own mayoral campaigns for fictional characters as part of their training. You can find a full list of the sites they’ve created here.
Before we move on to analyzing the Green Lantern's merits, I would first like to point out why he would be a better mayor than the other popular candidates. Specifically, I am going to talk about Spider-Man and Superman, as they seem to me the most likely to contend with the Green Lantern. Batwoman and Batgirl have not demonstrated any significant leadership abilities until the disappearance of Bruce Wayne, and even now they lurk in Dick Grayson's shadow. Wonder Woman is conditioned to pound opposition, not hold press conferences and appear at legislative hearings. The Atom is a renownded scientist, but as we learned from Woodrow Wilson, academics should not be politicians.
So there's Spider-Man. Yes, we all love Spidey. He's fun, he's witty, he's responsible, and he has a generally incorruptible sense of morality. He's young and in touch with youth voters. He even received glowing approbation from President Obama in issue #583 of The Amazing Spider-Man. However, this does not imply that Spider-Man would make a good, or even adequate political leader. First of all, Spider-Man is not a leader. He is a team player, but certainly is not capable of handling administrative duties and delegating tasks. Secondly, one of the persistent themes in his life is his utter inability to maintain both a personal and professional life. Peter Parker has sacrificed a tremendous amount, including schoolwork, careers, and even love, in order to maintain his role as New York City protector. He had trouble balancing a part-time job as a photographer at the Daily Bugle with his duties as Spider-Man. Imagine if he were to balance fighting crime with being the Mayor of a city. Besides, Spider-Man does not and has never even lived in DC--the city or the universe! What would he know about holding political office in it?
What about Superman? It would seem that Superman would be perfectly qualified to hold political office. America is in love with the Man of Steel. He smiles, beats up the bad guys, makes for great photos, and most of all, stands for truth, justice and the American way. Without a doubt, Superman is a natural born leader. The whole of the DC superhero community looks for his guidance in nearly all matters regarding Earth's safety. Here's the problem: he's Superman. He has better things to do than to sit at a desk. He patrols Metropolis and he serves as leader of the Justice League, who defuse threats to Earth's continued survival week after week. He was one of the most integral players in the recent defeat of Darkseid during Final Crisis. I personally would not want Superman to neglect his duties in the Justice League and risk the world's safety, would you? I would rather have somebody else handle the position of Mayor of DC.
And that someone is the Green Lantern.
Let us discuss his credentials. Kyle Rayner was specifically selected to serve as a Green Lantern following the tragic events of Hal Jordan's tenure as protector of Earth. Remember that Mr. Jordan had been a test pilot and had been awarded his power ring due to his honesty, bravery and fearlessness. These are qualities that the Lanterns and the Guardians of the Universe believed crucial towards membership in their ranks. Although Hal Jordan served proudly for many years, tragedy followed when he became possessed by Parallax--an agent of pure fear--went insane and destroyed Coast City.
It was then that the Lanterns decided they needed a new protector to replace Jordan--one in which the same tragedies would not repeat. Thus they had decided to change the job requirements. Rather than selecting someone based on the archaic, silver-age qualifications of fearlessness and honesty, they went in a new, more modern direction. They selected Mr. Rayner, a graphic artist, who was known more for his creativity and imagination than for his bravery. Rather than hastily, but confidently jumping into battle at the first sight of opposition, Rayner harnessed his boundless artistic imagination towards new and efficient solutions to problems of the day. And perhaps this was why Kyle Rayner retained such a strong public image in the United States.
Yet, this certainly does not imply that Mr. Rayner is void of bravery. Actually, quite the opposite. It turns out that much of the reason for why he was chosen following Coast City's catastrophe was that the Guardians believed that he knew fear well enough to be able to withstand torment by the Parallax. In fact, he even counseled other Lanterns (including Hal Jordan) as to how best overcome their innermost fears. And during the Sinestro Corp. War, Rayner did become possessed, but was actually able to take the form of the god, Ion, and engage Parallax in battle! Although he was defeated, there is no denying that this was a magnificent feat which not only showcased his bravery but sheer force of will.
Not only does Kyle Rayner possess the character and determination for Mayor of DC, he supports a range issues which will engender a positive effect for society and the economy.
Regarding the economy, the District of Columbia had the 10th highest unemployment rate (10.7%) in the country as of May 2009. Mr. Rayner will work towards easing this burden on the labor force by creating new, greener, energy-efficient jobs. He has proposed investing in local training programs, particularly in impoverished areas, in order to provide the necessary training and qualifications to secure jobs on the market for lower-income high school graduates. He has proposed investing in making DC's physical infrastructure by weatherizing older buildings and improving the public transportation system.
This could certainly contribute significantly towards easing the burden of the recession and DC's massive unemployment. Here is a report published by the Political Economy Research Institute, suggesting that investment in public infrastructure and economic growth rise and fall together. In a modeled baseline scenario for the year 2007, they estimate that a $54 billion increase in public infrastructure spending would increase annual GDP by about $46 billion. They also state that infrastructure spending will create about 18,000 jobs for every $1 billion spent.
Speaking of energy, the Green Lantern has a power ring, from which he could actually use the energy to create anything subject to the bounds of his imagination and will. As we discussed, Mr. Rayner in particular is known for his imagination and will power. Therefore, the use of the power ring under his guidance would be the most effective in helping DC recover in troubling economic times. In several occasions, Lanterns (such as John Stewart) have actually used the ring in order to rebuild destroyed cities and planets. In addition, his power ring is unique amongst the Lanterns in that is does not require recharging every 24 hours, its power is not negated by the color yellow, and is not powered by the Central Battery.
Regarding education, Kyle Rayner has not only stated that he supports investing government funds towards strengthening the foundation of early education, but he also believes in providing incentives and rewards for teachers to perform better and improve student outcomes. Consider this NBER paper by David N. Figlio and Lawrence Kenny, which demonstrate a positive relationship between financial incentives and outcomes (though to be fair was unable to rule out the overall qualities of the schools in the sample as a potential factor).
For these reasons, I believe that the Green Lantern possesses the intelligence, determination, willpower, imagination, and creativity to make the best Mayor of DC. In addition, he seems to possess the most solid grasp of the issues and effective solutions as combating poverty and social inequality.
And just as a reminder, what was the "greatest fear" that Parallax had tormented Kyle Rayner with in the time he was possessed? It was the fear of letting down everybody he knew. The Green Lantern is the people's champion!