Celebrities in Politics

These are some strange days indeed.  If having the “You’re fired!” guy as President wasn’t enough, we now hear that Kid Rock may be running for US Senate and The Rock is considering a “fast and furious” bid for the White House.  And that’s not all.  Oprah and Kanye might join them on the campaign trail.  Appears that your best source for political news may have shifted from CSPAN to TMZ.  Has the world gone completely mad?  Have we all lost our minds?

Well, those things might be true but probably not because the rich and famous are running for office.  They’ve been doing that since the beginning.  George Washington may have been wise and brave.  He also may have been the richest and most famous man in the colonies.  Back when we liked to have a good little war ever few years, Generals became folk heroes and the parties were not above nominating them for the highest offices.  Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses Grant and Dwight Eisenhower were all nominated for President with no government experience. Commanding an army is not the same as commanding the Executive branch of government.   Abraham Lincoln had essentially no experience as an executive and only a short stint in the House of Representatives on his resume.  He was a very wealthy and famous attorney with a particular ax to grind and a great PR team.  Ronald Reagan was a mediocre actor before he became governor of California.  And so was Arnold Schwarzenegger.  

And it isn’t just the highest offices either.  If you were growing up the 80’s (the Al Franken decade,) I doubt you thought of either Al or wrestler Jesse Ventura as likely candidates for anything other than late night TV.  The assumption that celebrities will be awful public servants is, I think, false.  We may argue over the particular merits of some of the names listed above but most people will see a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly.  Just like what we see from every other kind of politician.

And let’s be fair.  Some of the most politically savvy and experienced men and women who have served in high office have had plenty of problems themselves.  Richard Nixon was about as prepared as anyone to be President.  Didn’t end well.  The Clinton’s and Bush’s have pretty much done nothing with their lives except serve in the public sector.  Didn’t prevent them from making mistakes, sometimes pretty awful ones.  

My purpose is not to suggest that we elect inexperienced and incompetent people to office.  It is to point out that experience is not a perfect predictor of competence.  It is to suggest that selecting only candidates that have the proper political resume is not likely to lead to significant changes in the way things get done in Washington.  We don’t need a monopoly of slick attorneys and lifelong political hacks in our government.  In school, do you remember the kind of people who ran for the student senate or student body President?  Did you like those people?  Just asking.

So if Kanye or Kid Rock want to run for office, go for it.  If I like what you say, maybe I will even vote for you.  I certainly will not get my man panties in an uproar if you want to try.  Besides, how much more childish and insincere can you be, compared to some of the professional politicians that we already have?  I rest my case.

Hey everybody!  Have a great week.  I’ll be back on Friday with more thoughts from outside the box!  Thanks for reading!

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