Celebrities like Oprah and Kanye West aren’t ideal replacements for experienced politicians

In Opinion
(Dalia Quiroz / Daily Titan)

The Golden Globes were used as a way to promote the TIME’S UP movement and open discussions surrounding sexual assault and gender inequality, but the awards show also led to buzz about a possible 2020 U.S. presidential candidate.

At the event, Oprah Winfrey took the stage to accept the Cecil B. DeMille award which honors “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment,” and her stirring speech was immediately followed by the trending hashtag #Oprah2020.

Hashtags like this contribute to a system where celebrities with little to no experience are favored as candidates over people who have worked in public service their whole lives.

People may say that the recent trend of hashtag nominations beginning with #Kanye2020 back in November 2016 is nothing but a joke, but that’s what many first believed about Donald Trump’s campaign.

Winfrey later addressed the online support for her possible candidacy saying she didn’t “have the DNA for it,” and therefore would not be in the running for America’s next president, according to InStyle magazine.

While rallying speeches may be critical in political campaigns and even play a role in effective presidential leadership, a country cannot be run on empowering speeches alone. Celebrities have proven that they are often better at campaigning than actually being in office as they are more likely to already have a mass following of people who will support them from the very beginning of their campaign.

There is no doubt that people in the entertainment industry have humanitarian tendencies and often bring attention to issues that may have otherwise been left in the shadows, the most recent examples being the TIME’S UP movement and Golden Globes fashion movement. But whether or not past celebrity politicians have lived up to the standard of being good leaders depends on which way people lean politically.

For example, Ronald Reagan is often praised to this day for his supply-side economics, dissolution of the Soviet Union, removal of the Berlin Wall and essentially ending the Cold War.

But when he was elected, much of the American public was terrified, despite the fact that he had political experience as California’s governor from 1966 to 1974, because they knew him as the actor who starred in films like “Bedtime for Bonzo,” in which his main co-star was a chimp.

Despite the recognition Reagan receives for ending the Cold War and improving the economy, many critics say that U.S. foreign policy only worked due to diplomatic collaborations with Mikhail Gorbachev, (who also made significant internal decisions that dismantled the Soviet Union) and that “Reaganomics” provided temporary economic relief in the 1980s, but hurt the middle class in the long run.

Though other celebrity political leaders have had mediocre political careers, such as California’s governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who’s to say if they just caught a lucky break? After all, even the most experienced political leaders are sometimes faced with cleaning up the messes of their predecessors before they’ve had a chance to implement new legislation or create change.

Promoting celebrities for elected office is a risk the public has to ask itself if it’s willing to take. Would they rather rely on someone who has more fame and social media clout over a candidate who has years of public service experience and wisdom?

The 2016 presidential election would suggest, yes. America preferred to have a reality TV star and sketchy businessman as the lead Republican candidate, and ultimately president, over people who had long-standing political careers and better conceptions of leading a nation.

If America is resolute in electing celebrities over politicians, maybe it’s a positive sign that the nation is turning to people as dignified and well-spoken as Winfrey.

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