America has an undeniable obsession with celebrities. Thousands of news sites and magazines trace the movements of movie and TV stars, publishing them doing mundane activities like walking down the street and shopping for groceries. Our obsession with fame and famous people, however, does not need to—and should not—leak into our political system.
Celebrities tend to be charismatic and know how to appeal to a specific audience, which is wonderful for a TV show in need of ratings, but not ideal for the chief executive of a diverse country. As junior Revati Mahurkar says, a “lot of [celebrities’] success depends on catering to what one crowd of people want or like instead of being able to take a step back and look at things as a whole.” We’ve seen this with President Trump, a former businessman and reality TV host, as he continues to speak to only his base voters, ignoring and often debasing significant portions of our country. Effective presidents need to be able to speak and govern with all of their citizens in mind.
Some may argue that having a celebrity run for president will increase the involvement of the electorate in general by reaching certain demographics, specifically young people. If voters see a name that is familiar, they may be more receptive to supporting that person’s candidacy. Some people just want to elect an outsider to be president, an appealing tactic to those who are fed up with the status quo in Washington. But even a recognizable face will not necessarily be a compelling leader, and a celebrity shouldn’t have to run for office in order to encourage participation in an election. A recognizable face may not be the best attribute of a president, but it makes for the perfect endorsement tool. Celebrities should use their fame to support candidates who have the tools to succeed—especially those with experience in politics.
Ideally, prospective presidents must know how to govern, as well as have a deep knowledge of public policy creation, international relations, economics and a multitude of other topics that are imperative to running a large and complex country. Junior Shira Minsk adds that “presidents can’t just accept the information that others give them,” and that a president must be able to “think on one’s feet,” and “think about what their advisors say….and be able to disagree with them.” If a president lacks these credentials, he or she will not be effective in office. As we have witnessed over the last year, President Trump has been unable to push through many facets of his agenda and seems to lack understanding of how our system of government works, and of the many issues he wants to address, like health care and immigration. This has hindered him from proposing effective solutions and working with the other branches of government to create constructive policies.
That said, not all celebrities are necessarily unfit to be a world leader. Celebrities are already public figures, and by adding experience in public policy to their repertoire, they have potential to be effective leaders. Senior Jack Rudnick states that “if someone were to say transition from TV or the movies to president, they might lack some of the insights that a career in politics bring,” but he makes the point that if celebrities “would transition to being a governor or a congressman before running for president so they had experience in the policy making process… then they’d have the best of both worlds– the public recognition and the experience.” While certain celebrities may not be prepared to lead the United States, they, like anyone else in this country, have the potential to be powerful leaders. As it stands, however, being a celebrity should not be one’s primary qualifier for office.
By Maddie Brown ’19