Celebrities talk of joining political process via presidency

Parul Kumar, editor-in-chief

For many, our current political landscape may resemble a reality T.V. show with larger-than-life politicians making outrageous statements and constantly fighting scandals. In the next couple of years, that resemblance may grow with the talk of other celebrities running for office.

“I don’t have any credence to Kanye West as president but we have given talks of celebrities like Oprah running for president some legs,” AP U.S. History teacher Matthew Meyers said. “Our definition of a president has certainly been changed with President Trump who’s political resume may not have been the most important factor.”

After President Trump’s win in 2016, rapper Kanye West declared his own run for president in 2020 during a performance at the 2016 Emmy awards. Then, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson contemplated his own run on Ellen in 2017. Only a few days into 2018, talk of Oprah running for president spread after her speech on sexual misconduct and race went viral.

“People vote because they want their voice represented in government,” junior Carly Colen said. “If someone feels that a celebrity will accomplish that, they may decide to support a celebrity president.”

Celebrities participating in politics is not new. Ronald Reagan was an actor prior to becoming governor of California and finally, president. The rise in celebrities running for the president’s seat, however, could be a result of the election of our current president, who was once the star of his own T.V. show “The Apprentice.”

Though respective political ideology often determines what could make a good or bad president, winning a seat may now come down to the amount of people who know your name. Names like The Rock may be more familiar compared to actual politicians.

“Sometimes, politicians are scary,” Colen said. “Celebrity faces may be more familiar and sometimes people would rather have a face like Oprah or Ellen that they see every day as opposed to someone like Martin O’Malley who they’ve never heard of before.”

With traditional politicians, constituent attention often came from grassroots activism like Obama or corporate sponsorships like Clinton. That attention even drives an incumbency advantage for previously elected officials who don’t need to campaign as hard because most people know who they are. This makes election rates far higher for those officials.

For celebrities, that advantage may already exist– an advantage could make an election easier to win.

However, the implications of celebrity fueled political seats may suggest less experienced politicians who are driven by ideology over policy. While President Trump may have engaged in political conversations and Oprah has spoke for pressing social issues, neither have firsthand political experience for the highest governmental position in the country.

“Americans in general are so attuned to social media that we may value personality over policy,” Myers said. “As a whole, we are losing sight of researching opinions and taking words as fact.”

Celebrity politicians may even put America’s place as a global superpower in danger because of their complete lack of experience in foreign policy experience.

Yet, these non—traditional politicians may be exactly what Americans want. An NPR study from 2015 found that only one in five Americans trusted the government. This may be due to a public lack in faith over corrupt or mysterious politicians.

Comparatively, celebrities have lived in the public eye for the majority of their publicity. Most have transparent backgrounds and while some may be streaked with scandal, Americans may be able to see these stories play out directly and therefore, have more trust in them.

“Celebrities get so much attention that I think being president on top of that would be too much,” junior Nathan Hernandez said. “Still, some celebrities are more well-versed in topics than other ones so it varies.”

Though our actual requirements for the presidency have not changed, perhaps our definition for what makes a president has. While we look to the upcoming 2020 election expecting a mix of celebrity and traditional candidates, maybe we should look to the future and far past to see how the close the White House comes to a set.

“What America wants is a president who makes a strong statement for change and then takes the actions to actually prove it,” Hernandez said.