Don’t Vote For A Celebrity in 2020

Jack Cogen, Opinions Editor

The candidacy and subsequent presidency of Donald Trump were shocking for a number of reasons, not least of which being his unprecedented status as a president with no government or military experience. Elected with experience only as a businessman and celebrity, Trump could be a one-off mistake that our nation stands strongly against, or he may herald in a new era in which the United States presidency becomes more of a contest of popularity than of competency. This cannot be allowed to happen.

After Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes, the hashtag #Oprah2020 trended on Twitter, and CNN reported that two of Oprah’s friends said she was “actively thinking about” running for president. Though Oprah later stated that she did not intend to run, the idea of another president with experience in television and business rather than public policy was taken seriously by the public and the media for a period of time. It disturbed me how quickly the previously alien idea of a celebrity president with no previous government experience has become normalized.

In a recent article published by the Washington Post, actor Dwayne Johnson and Oprah Winfrey took the #15 and #11 slots respectively in a list of likely Democratic nominees. Another non-politician, the former CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, also took the #13 spot. Do these potential nominees sound wild and implausible? Absolutely, but no more so than a Trump presidency sounded in 2014.

If Trump is followed by an Elizabeth Warren or a Corey Booker or a Kamala Harris– or if he is defeated in the Republican primaries by a conservative with real experience in public policy– he will have been an anomaly, a symptom of a very specific time in our nation’s history. If a celebrity defeats Trump, or Trump is followed by another right-leaning media figure with no government experience, then the strategy of name recognition and controversy will become the new norm in national politics.

Much of Urban’s student body will be able to vote for the first time in the 2020 elections, and though California is virtually guaranteed to vote for whichever candidate ends up facing off against President Trump, the primaries are significantly harder to predict– your vote will matter. It almost feels unnecessary to say this, but the highest office in the nation is not a job that someone should be able to be hired for without experience in the field.

As much as “career politician” has become a dirty word in modern politics, I think a career politician is exactly what we need in this country: someone with a level head on their shoulders and experience in domestic and foreign policy.