Is the Presidency Becoming a Job for Celebrities?

Dwayne Johnson has expressed interest in the presidency on multiple occasions. #Oprah2020 took Twitter by storm after Oprah Winfrey’s impassioned acceptance speech at the Golden Globes. Mark Cuban has stated that he is considering a presidential campaign. Everywhere you look, people are tossing out celebrities’ names as potential presidential candidates, whether jokingly or seriously. This poses a serious question: is fame something that Americans take into consideration when choosing our president?

It certainly is possible for celebrities to find a new career path in politics. Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger were both Hollywood stars-turned-politicians, but neither one leapt straight to the most high-profile office in the United States without prior government experience. Yet this is exactly what Donald Trump did, and from day one he has distorted the reputation of the presidency and the United States. From advocating for legislation that a majority of Americans oppose to his overinflated ego and crude comments about those who criticize him, there are a myriad of ways that one could argue Trump is tarnishing the image of the presidency. But the very fact that he was elected without ever having held a government office is a testament to the influence of celebrity on the public’s perception of politics, and it could have lasting consequences in future elections.

Trump’s fame may have been one of the deciding factors in his election. Obviously, his words and persona resonated with enough voters to win the presidency. But he had notoriety on his side. His announcement of his candidacy made waves across the United States, and people were intrigued because he was already a household name. He would not have gained such momentum if he were Joe Schmo from some Podunk town in the middle of nowhere.

Now many people are questioning what it really takes to be elected to a political office. Working one’s way up through the various levels of government was the typical career path for politicians for years. In campaign ads, the candidates will often talk about their previous experiences in public service. But if someone can attain the presidency without this, is fame perhaps the most foolproof way to convince voters to listen to you?

In some respects, it’s easy to see why some people are thrilled at the idea of their favorite celebrities running for office. We all want our nation’s leader to be someone we can admire, and some people naturally turn to their favorite entertainment or business personalities. But fame does not make up for experience. Regardless of your career’s status, you can’t jump from a high-ranking position in one field to be the head honcho of another. One does not go from chief surgeon at a hospital straight to CEO of a major tech corporation overnight. Why don’t we apply the same principles to politics?

The presidency is not a job to be taken lightly – Trump has even said that the job is harder than he expected. One should not take on such a significant role without understanding the responsibilities and devotion that the job demands. All politics aside, the bumbling Trump administration may prove to some that there is no place in the White House for anyone without any prior experience in public service, regardless of their accolades. But others may see this as a chance to vote their idols into office, hoping that Kanye 2020 becomes a reality. With all due respect, let’s save the presidency for experienced politicians who actually know what they’re doing. If celebrities do choose to foray into politics, it’s probably best if they start out small.