The internet collectively had a field day when Oprah Winfrey told David Rubenstein on Bloomberg TV that she was reconsidering the whole running-for-president thing.
“I thought, ‘I don’t have the experience. I don’t know enough,” Oprah said on the show. “And now I am thinking, ‘Oh.’”
No one was sure how serious she was. No one, that is, except her best friend Gayle King, who explained on CBS This Morning that it was “clearly a joke.”
“I would bet my first, second born, and any unborn children to come that ain’t never happening,” King added.
But why did we latch onto that idea so strongly? As a country, America seems to be infatuated with the idea of having a celebrity in our highest office over someone with an extensive political background. This extends beyond the 2016 election (although that was certainly a clear-cut example.)
Jesse Ventura, Al Franken, Arnold Schwarzenneger, John Glenn and Ronald Reagan all found their way into politics. And while some of these men proved to be quite successful and adept at their positions, it does offer insight into our particular fascination with celebrity culture in all facets of our lives.
Donald Trump’s nomination prompted a number of stars to make a case for themselves. When Kanye West announced that he wanted to run for president at the MTV 2015 Video Music Awards, his fans leapt to support the idea. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson said he wouldn’t rule it out. Katy Perry, Lindsay Lohan, and Chris Rock have all expressed interest, be it serious or satirical (which, as we all know, is a fine line.)
Will you excuse me for just one moment as I slam myself over the head with a metal pan?
Okay. I’m back.
Look, if Oprah wanted to quit her TV cable network, devote her life to politics, and work her way up in the political ladder by starting with her community, I’m sure she would do a lovely job. She’s an intelligent, charismatic, opinionated woman.
But setting a precedent that any random celebrity can use their star power to run our country? It’s not just entertaining–it’s dangerous, and we need to stop supporting it.