Dwayne Johnson, Caitlyn Jenner and Matthew McConaughey. Names we usually only think about when we are talking about big-screen movies or reality TV, right? In a normal world, yes, but we live in the bad place that seems to be the 2020s.
About two weeks ago, Johnson said in an interview that he would be open to running for the highest office in the land when asked if he was eyeing a campaign. This question was not unprompted. A poll released toward the start of April showed Johnson had the consideration of 46 percent of Americans. Even recently, this is not an isolated occurrence.
Around the same time, a poll was released that showed Texas native Matthew McConaughey with a 16-point lead over current Gov. Greg Abbott in a hypothetical face-off. This comes after the famous actor stated he was seriously considering a run in a March interview. McConaughey has not said what party he would run with, but the Republican Party is unlikely to be open to primarying their incumbent governor. The "Interstellar" star used his platform to record pro-mask PSAs with Dr. Anthony Fauci and has called gun violence in America an epidemic.
Most recently, Caitlyn Jenner has thrown her hat into the political arena, announcing that she will run for governor if the recall election against current Gov. Gavin Newsom moves forward. In her statement, she says California has been hurt by “one-party rule” and COVID lockdowns. Jenner is a longtime Republican and has been criticized by some in the LGBT community for supporting Donald Trump for president in 2016, something she withdrew in 2018.
Before 2016, it would have been easy to brush off these stories as a publicity stunt, but now we know how serious these situations can get. A person with a recognized face and enough resources has a real chance of getting themselves in a position of power.
While they may seem likable and have good ideas on the surface, celebrities are not the kind of people we need leading our nation. Positions such as president or governor deal with complex and deeply important issues that require similar understandings of how our system works and who it affects. These are not things we want our leaders to be learning on the job. We saw how that went, and while we made it through that era it was filled with blunders and miscalculations.
When things go bad we should look to a qualified, trustworthy person to lead us, not "Keeping Up with the Kardashians."
This is not to say that a celebrity should not use their platform for good. Many take advantage of their resources to highlight important issues — Iowa native Ashton Kutcher has even testified before Congress on the issue of human trafficking. They can play a valuable role in our society and work to improve it, they just shouldn't be leading it.
So as we go into the next midterm cycle, keep in mind who you really want at the helm. While the desire for outsiders and new faces grows, remember to still vet these newcomers. A fresh idea can be important, but we must keep our standards high even in times of political oddity.