Kanye West meets with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office in October of 2018.

Should we eschew celebrity candidacies for high office? Kimberly Ross made the case that it’s a bad idea in an interesting piece at the Washington Examiner. She was writing in response to Kanye West’s campaign for president:  

Mrs. Ross writes:  

When celebrities say they want to run for President that decision alone should not be applauded. Rewarding popularity with the highest office in the land is not wise. That someone has the money and fame to instantly create buzz doesn’t mean their endeavor should be encouraged. Admiring an individual for their success, or even personality, in one field does not mean they should be considered for or will be successful in another. More often than not, celebrities are drunk on their own power, and if they do pursue elected office will do so in order to capitalize on what they have. Nothing more.  

There’s a lot here with which I agree. Yes, we shouldn’t be gaga for celebrities or assume that because we liked them in a film or appreciate their music, or like a celebrity, that automatically they would make a great president. I also think we have to be cautious of what people’s motives are when deciding to run for office.  

That said, the idea we should treat “all who wish to trade their non-political fame for elected power” the same, as she says later in the piece, is off-base.  

The first problem is that she fails to acknowledge the reality of modern Presidential politics. If we had a system where political parties always nominated highly qualified people who are well-suited to the office, it wouldn’t make sense to look to celebrities.

That’s not the reality of the primary system. While we shouldn’t applaud “money and fame” as a basis for achieving political office, that is the main criteria for being the nominee of either party. Performance in office has little to do with it. We don’t choose Senators, who were terrific legislators or governors who achieved remarkable results.  

President Obama exacerbated this problem when he ran for president after failing to complete a single term, and ambitious junior senators on both sides have taken note. Rather than fulfilling campaign promises or trying to be a good senator, they spend their time building their brands for presidential bids by grandstanding and using senate hearings to create viral videos where they “destroy” or “own” some object of partisan loathing. Their entire Senate “service” is based on getting Internet famous and attracting a donor base.

Those who want to do serious work get demagogued by opportunists who pick out any votes or perceived breaks with party orthodoxy as evidence they’re a closet member of the other side. Thus we’ve created a system where those who can achieve fame and raise unseemly amounts of money have the edge, and any true independent thought is penalized.   

There are ways of choosing a nominee that doesn’t create this sort of situation. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the major parties to build a better system. 

Secondly, we have to acknowledge how bad our current politicians are. At this point, of 535 members of Congress, I can only think of one that I respect, and he’s retiring. There’s maybe one governor or two I like, but neither has any chance of national political office. If we find our current leaders to be that rotten, where can we turn for better options?  

America desperately needs a new political party. This requires more openness to a celebrity candidate. If new parties are lucky, they might get a former politician from an existing party. Otherwise, the nomination will go to an unknown political activist. That’s like choosing a celebrity who lacks charisma, fame, and money. Libertarian Party presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen has far more policy depth than Kanye West. However, she has just as much relevant life experience for handling the nuclear codes or appointing thousands of federal officers.   

With a lack of trustworthy people in office to support, we must acknowledge that our current system gives celebrities opportunities that no one else is going to have. So rather than treating all celebrities the same, I think a more reasonable path is to set realistic expectations for them. 

Celebrity candidates should have adequate knowledge of public affairs, show a present capacity for sound judgment and good character, and prove they’re humble enough to be teachable by bringing in quality expert advisors and listening to them. A celebrity candidate of that nature would be more fit for office than today’s career politicians. 

By the above standard, Kanye West 2020 may only be fit for a protest vote, and Trump has always been entirely unfit for office. However, that shouldn’t lead us to discount all celebrities in the future. If, for example, Tim Tebow or Ben Watson decide to run for president in 2024, I’d be glad to hear what they have to say. It’d almost certainly beat what the professional politicians will be offering.  

1 comment
  1. While I agree that Kanye West is suitable only for a protest vote, casting a protest vote in this election would be wildly irresponsible. President Trump may be unfit for office, compared to God or some standard of perfection, but he is eminently fit for office compared to the opposition.

    Joe Biden appears to be in the early stages of dementia or senility. I can speak on this because I cared for my mother in her last years while she was afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. The frequent inability to complete a thought, the confused statements, the reluctance to confront any serious questioning by the press are only the surface of the problem.

    Perhaps the most telling example of his decline occurred when loony anti-diary protesters ran on to the stage during a campaign event. They initially appeared to be launching as assault. Who usually meets an assault when a man and his wife are together? It is usually the man, unless he is not mentally capable of comprehending or understanding what is happening. This is when Jill Biden, the candidate’s wife and caretaker, ran forward to stop them. At the same time she shouted “You’re OK! You’re OK!” to Joe. This is precisely what a caretaker does for a person with dementia who is startled. Usually, you wouldn’t yell these reassurances, but Jill Biden had to because they were at a noisy campaign event.

    Joe Biden has proven to be a pushover for the most radical elements of his party. He will be easily manipulated The federal law enforcement and intelligence elements were weaponized by the Obama Administration to attack Trump’s campaign and cripple his presidency.. That will be nothing compared to the oppression which will emanate from a Democratic administration, especially if they take control of the Congress.

    With the aid of their allies in the press, First and Second Amendment protections will be crushed. Upholding any traditional American value, even opposing the insane proposition that the American Revolution was fought to preserve slavery, will be branded as “racist” and used to destroy individuals’ lives and careers and possibly even to persecute them for “hate crimes”. The police will be destroyed or constrained, as they are now in many cities controlled by the Democratic Party, to allow the mob to rampage. As the mayor of Baltimore said in 2015: “we . . . gave those who wished to destroy space to do that.” Those so foolish as to use whatever guns they are allowed to keep to defend life and property will have their firearms seized and face possible prosecution, as is now happening to the McCloskeys in St. Louis.

    Don’t count on the courts to protect you. The federal courts have treated the Second Amendment as if it, the Heller decision, and the McDonald decision didn’t exist. The Supreme Court refused to hear several Second Amendment cases which should have been heard. Don’t think the same thing can’t happen to the First Amendment. A right which is not enforced is not a right at all.

    Our economy will be crushed by taxes and increased regulation. The Green New Deal will be implemented, not to save the environment, but, as AOC’s top aide admitted, to take over the economy. The destruction of our fossil fuel energy economy will be just one step in the goal of achieving equality by reducing every one to the lowest economic level. After all, wasn’t almost everyone poor in the Great Depression?

    The floodgates will be open for illegal aliens. The ones already here will be legalized to ensure that the Democratic Party can stay in power forever. This will drive down wages for the unskilled and many others. While these and other policies will hammer the poor and minorities, as Lenin said, “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs”.

    Racial division will be increased as a tool for retaining power. Racial stereotyping against white people will be taught and approved. Of course,such acts harm all races. (If you really believe that “rational thinking” and “the scientific method” are purely white values, will you want to hire a Black attorney or doctor?) Tell me how inculcating self loathing in any race helps racial reconciliation.

    It has become commonplace to say “This is the most important election of our times”. This one really is. The founders dedicated their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to their country. Are we prepared to do the same?

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