Politics belongs to politicians


Camilla Breen, Assistant Photo Editor

In recent months, there has been a substantial increase in the amount of celebrities talking about politics. I, for one, am all for it–I love the idea of stars using their platforms to speak out for what they believe, and the concept lends itself to an important principle of free speech in our society. However, due to recent political tensions-in the form of the current administration- there has also been a definite increase in the amount of celebrities proclaiming candidacy for the 2020 election. That is where I draw the line. After Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes, I’ve seen many people voice their support for the idea.

These campaign proclamations have been present ever since Donald Trump was elected, and the idea of running has been seen from other celebrities like Kanye West, Dwayne Johnson, Will Smith and even Mark Cuban. But it needs to stop. There is a huge difference between ending out a 140-character tweet to voice your opinions about a political issue and actually running for office.

Much of the criticism surrounding Trump at the beginning of his candidacy revolved around his ability to actually lead a country; even today, nearing the one-year mark of his presidency, it is one of the most voiced complaints about his administration. He had no previous government experience, and I certainly have not seen any evidence in the past year to support the idea that any celebrities are suitable politicians. Why should the reaction be any different for people like Kanye or Oprah?

Yes, I think Oprah is an inspirational person who deserves to be recognized for all the good she has done, and yes it would be phenomenal to have an African American woman in office- but she has no political experience to guide her. Sure, it is fun to make shirts, hats and other paraphernalia declaring “Kanye 2020,” but it cannot become a recurring reality for the United States. Electing a celebrity for our president is how America found itself in the midst of the political zoo we are currently experiencing, and electing another celebrity in 2020 would be unwise.

We need to leave governing to qualified members of society who actually understand the law and the nuances of politics. Easy in theory, politics become a whole new beast once actually involved.  Being the president isn’t just all speeches and interviews and one too many visits to the golf course; it is a real and difficult job, and the American people owe it to themselves to elect someone who at least has some semblance of a clue on how to lead their country.

Even looking back at former President Ronald Reagan’s time in office, he didn’t jump straight to the Oval Office; the one-time actor instead served two terms as governor of California, which is where he gained the attention and respect of the American people. This is what celebrities are missing nowadays. Jumping straight from T.V. acting or talk-show hosting to a presidential campaign doesn’t give a famous person any credibility or experience.

Former President Barack Obama, although not a celebrity, served in the Illinois State Senate for seven years, and then served two years in the U.S. senate. By doing that, he was able to move up the political ranks, all the while working hard to even consider running for president. No celebrity should be able to just waltz in and run for office without putting in any real effort first. When asked in 2016 on ‘Meet the Press’ about his consideration to run for vice president, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban replied: “You don’t have to be the perfect Stepford candidate like you would’ve been in the past.” This is the root of the initial problem: because Trump was actually elected, it opened the door for other celebrities to run for office and planted the idea that any old schmuck can win; they don’t believe they need the proper qualifications, and what began as a half-baked joke on the internet is quickly becoming a frightful possibility in our nation’s’ future. The repercussions are too great to risk, though.

However, if celebrities were actually to apply themselves and start small by running in local elections, it would be a different story. There is a distinct line between a “celebrity president” and a “celebrity-turned-politician”. I believe that having experience is a necessity when considering running for office, and it cannot be brushed off as a secondary prerequisite anymore. The idea that anyone can become president has been around for a long time, but we didn’t mean like this. America needs stable, capable, and intelligent candidates for the next election, not just the newest host of a morning talk show.