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As part of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs, these 12 Southern California fellows are engaged in a full-time, nine-month, graduate-level leadership training program that prepares individuals for public-affairs leadership.

Iron Man vs. Captain America

Q: The grassroots 'tea party' movement suffered a set back this week when its candidates in Indiana lost in the Republican primaries. How can political leaders, or leaders in other fields, harness the power of insurgencies? What are the ground rules?

Leaders do not always need to react to conflict with bitter opposition; 'win/win' solutions are always possible.

Growing up, I was always a comic fan. In 2006, Marvel introduced a new limited series entitled "Civil War." Written by Mark Millar, the series depicted a conflict in the Marvel Universe as superheroes struggled with the implications of new proposed legislation, 'Superheroes Registration Act.' This fictional law would have forced superheroes register with the U.S. government as 'a human of mass destruction.' Superheroes would have to unveil their secret identities and undergo training to work with the U.S. government.

The controversial act was poised to end an entire way of life for superheroes in the Marvel Universe. Facing such a critical and polarizing issue, it was not long before superheroes broke up into two factions: a pro-registration group led by Iron Man Tony Stark that sought to work with the government on the issue, and an anti-registration group called the 'Secret Avengers' led by Captain America. The two factions clashed and the result was civil war among superheroes.

One of the most iconic images of the series occurred near the end, where Iron Man and Captain America are caught in a bitter physical struggle. Once great allies and friends in the struggle for justice, the two leaders of opposing sides grappled face to face in a devastated landscape, furiously trying to destroy one another. Captain America realizes the conflict has gone too far, and he surrenders out of remorse. Soon after, he is assassinated.

In a special issue entitled "What if the Civil War ended differently?" Tony Stark has a vision, in which he sees that if he had collaborated with Captain America, a new era of peace and prosperity could have resulted. Tony weeps, realizing what he had lost.

Conflict is the root of all progress, I've been told. Even in a realm of superheroes, there will always be points in history when a society will not see eye to eye on an issue. Yet how one responds to that issue can make the difference. Instead of opposing insurgencies, maybe leaders can find a lesson in the pages of comic books and collaborate for a 'win/win' solution before something both sides cherish is lost forever. --Jimmy Duong

By Coro Fellows

 |  May 6, 2010; 2:29 AM ET
Category:  Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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In this rather strained metaphor, wouldn't the GOP be Captain America, not Iron Man?

Moreover, please tell me what the win/win scenario is between the duly elected President of the United States and the people who call him a Kenyan Muslim communist-fascist ineligible to be president, with a bone through his nose, dressed up in Joker makeup and a Hitler mustache, that's going to pull the plug on Grandma?

Posted by: hayesap8 | May 6, 2010 11:04 PM
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Well, those Indiana "tea party" candidates lost because they did not get enough votes (duh). I'm in wacked-out California where the American Independent, Peace & Freedom and Green Parties are on the ballot; they rarely get a candidate elected as the more established Democrats and Republicans have gerrymandered districts and a rigged primary system. Basically, whomever gets the Partys' blessing to run as "their" candidate gets the "machine" behind them with the money and the organization; giving them a 95%+ chance of winning the primary, which pretty much guarantees the "official" election.

I am reminded of my late Grandmothers' stories of how women got the vote. They would meet locally, try to elect a (male) candidate sympatric to their views, sometimes succeed, and if they failed, try, try again. That’s all I can suggest for Indiana.

Posted by: shadowmagician | May 6, 2010 5:04 PM
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Ummm...you didn't answer the question. Weren't you supposed to answer the question?

Posted by: bidalah | May 6, 2010 2:52 PM
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