When that vile, racist, sexist, xenophobic, saddle-tan-colored demagogue was declared the winner of the 2016 presidential election, a wave of varying fears washed over me and all “others” for understandable reasons. Not long after, though, came a terrifying premonition—now more fucking celebrities will think they can waltz right into the White House. Trump was supposed to suffer a humiliating, crushing defeat, and ideally, end up a broke bitch. Of course, that did not happen, but even if Trump’s term is increasingly barricaded by chaos of his own creation, there are now plenty of celebrities looking at the POTUS and thinking to themselves, “If he can do it, so can I.”
Last fall, Dwayne Johnson spoke with People magazine and explored the possibility of a political run, saying he wonders if he can make a difference if he surrounds himself “with really brilliant people to help me make decisions.” These comments were made on the heels of a Washington Post op-ed encouraging his political ambitions and he responded in kind at the time, calling it “fun to read” while noting “the most important thing right now is strong honest leadership from our current and future leaders of this country.”
Johnson is still being encouraged to consider becoming the most powerful person on the planet.
GQ recently published “Dwayne Johnson for President!” and once again The Rock publicly flirted with the idea of running for office. When asked if he has given it more thought, Johnson answered, “I think that it's a real possibility.”
And just yesterday, speaking with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, Johnson once again discussed his ambitions in light of the glowing GQ profile. He cited a recent poll that had him beating Trum in a hypothetical election. "I've really been blown away," he said. "It's so flattering."
As for 2020, The Rock has this to say: "Three-and-a-half years is a long way away, so we'll see."
Although Caity Weaver, the author of GQ’s op-ed, is correct in that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has the kind of rags-to-riches story, personality, and name recognition that would instantly make him a viable political contender, questions remain. What does he actually stand for? Does he even deserve it? What does being a movie star have to do with being running the U.S. government?
What does being a movie star have to do with being running the U.S. government?
While Johnson continues to toy with the decision, other celebrities are already jumping into the fray. Recently, Antonio Sabato Jr. declared that he will be running for Congress. GOP strategist Charles Moran, who will serve as Sabato’s fundraiser, said of the former Calvin Klein model, actor, and reality star to the Los Angeles Times, “Being a Republican and with proximity to the White House and Republican leadership, he’s going to be able to get more done—being in the majority, with his notoriety, for the residents of the 26th [Congressional] District.”
It’s easy to mock Sabato Jr. given that his political expertise thus far consists mostly of saying stupid things on FOX News, the Republican National Convention, and any cable news network that will let him speak out loud. Case in point, Sabato Jr.’s asserting that former President Obama is secretly a Muslim. Sabato Jr. said this following his RNC speech, which means he was touting birtherism conspiracy theories in 2016, the year of our Lemonade.
Sabato Jr.’s ignorance is equal parts asinine and amusing, but when you factor in that the current U.S. president is the dude from The Apprentice, you are met with the reality that for all we know, he, too, could win his seat. Maybe he’ll even become governor of California someday. It happened with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Republicans love to exploit the popularity of marginal celebrities for political power. After all, their patron saint, Ronald Reagan, was a B-list actor before he became a crappy, racist governor and president.
There were also calls last year for Tim Tebow to run for office by conservatives. That said, it’s not just Republican celebrities eyeing various political offices. Earlier this month, NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal shared with an Atlanta TV station that he is thinking about running for office, notably sheriff. Oprah Winfrey, who has always been asked to run for office, joked that Trump did get her to wondering if it were possible.
"It's clear you don't need government experience to be elected president of the United States,” she said on Bloomberg television. She added: "I thought, 'Oh, gee, I don't have the experience, I don't know enough.' And now I'm thinking, 'Oh.'"
But Oprah will not actually run for office. She knows her lane and she has opted to stay in it. The same cannot be said of others, and if recent months have seen a bunch of stars suddenly announcing or planning political runs, more are sure to follow. Our society has a collective insatiable appetite for all things celebrity. It has allowed celebrities to step out into many ventures most definitely have no experience in but can enter by no other virtue than being famous.
Trump has now given so many celebrities hope, but for the sake of me and other like me who actually want this country to be led by a qualified candidate, I hope the electorate really takes into consideration just how damaging this can be. How many of these celebrities can be the political equivalent of Victoria Beckham’s fashion line or Bobby Brown’s BBQ sauce (successful, surprisingly tasty) and which are more likely going to turn out like Nelly’s Vokal clothing line or Flava Flav’s fried chicken restaurants—in flames and failure? Folks need to know how bad this can get.
Just look at any news coming out of The White House. It’s all the evidence you need this won’t end well.