We should not support celebrities for presidentBy Cassie Kuhn | 01/19/2018 12:03am
You wouldn’t hire a chemist to teach an English composition class educating the next generation, nor would you want an English major working in a chemistry lab to develop the products that’ll end up on the shelves at your local Walmart. In other words, we like for people to be trained for the jobs they’re going to do, especially when their work can and will have a tangible impact on our lives. This principle should extend to the way we treat politicians.
Obviously everybody has to start somewhere, and nobody expects summer interns working on Capitol Hill or the low-level government officials to have years worth of experience in politics before we hire them. However, when it comes to our Congressmen and Congresswomen, or the President of the United States, we have not only the right, but the responsibility, to demand that these people have political experience. This is why we have to fight vigilantly against the normalization of celebrities in politics that Trump’s presidency is playing no small role in bringing about.
After Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes that suggested she may be interested in running for President, many immediately demonstrated support for a potential Winfrey presidency on social media. While Winfrey is without a doubt a skilled orator and has demonstrated her selflessness and dedication to humanitarian causes via her philanthropy, she is not a politician. Winfrey has never held public office, and she simply doesn’t have the experience or skills that the American public deserves in a future president.
This isn’t a bad thing, and had Winfrey decided to pursue politics she may very well have succeeded. However, she did not choose a political career, and giving Winfrey or any other celebrity our political support when there are countless of qualified, motivated career politicians out there who could potentially run in the next presidential election would be a short-sighted decision.
This may seem like an odd argument to make so early in the year, with years to go before the end of Trump’s presidential term. But it is precisely because we currently have somebody like Donald Trump in office that it is so important we don’t forget how necessary political expertise is when it comes to being a politician.
Prior to being elected President, Trump has never held public office. Additionally, he has proven himself time and time again to be largely unfamiliar with the way that the government works. Although Trump’s presidency is certainly starting to feel to many of us like the new ‘normal’, it’s important that we remember that this is not the way American politics are supposed to be. While a Winfrey presidency would be, without a doubt, a step up from a Trump presidency, we can and should aim higher than just ‘a step up’ from our current state.
The next presidential election cycle will be here before we know it, and it will be up to us to demand that our next president has experience working in politics. Politicians are subject to ceaseless scrutiny by the American public, which is a good thing. But while we love to spend our time criticizing them and fixating on the greed and corruption which we so often associate with politics, we have to remember that there are positive things to be said for career politicians as well.
A president with years of experience working in politics is going to be more likely to know how to handle various situations they may find themselves in, will have the skills to negotiate and communicate effectively with other politicians, other world leaders and the American public, and is going to know many of the intricacies of the enormous and complex government that they have such a vital role in running.
Oprah Winfrey might have many presidential qualities, but she’s not a politician. And right now more than ever, we need one in the White House. If we want to create a strong and respectable American government, we need to value candidates’ relevant skills and political experience more than their celebrity status.
Cassie Kuhn is a junior majoring in political science and mathematics. Her column runs biweekly.